A massive 70 patients were on trolleys waiting for a bed in the country’s most overcrowded hospital this morning.
University Hospital Limerick is coping with one of its worst days this winter.
Nationally 513 were waiting for a bed, figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation revealed.
Other hospitals suffering congestion included Cork University Hospital where 36 were on trolleys and Sligo University Hospital which had 35 patients without a bed.
Earlier this month Health Minister Simon Harris said he recognised that hospitals are increasingly operating at or above capacity, with year-round demand pressures that are further challenged over the winter months.
“It is against this background that the Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase in acute hospitals beds of over 2,600 by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services in the years ahead.
“Increasing capacity is a priority for the Government in line with the recommendations of the Health Service Capacity Review,” he said.
In this context, an additional 240 beds have been opened over the past 12 months and the HSE's National Service Plan provides for a comprehensive capacity programme for 2019. The main elements of the programme are:
- the opening of 78 new beds by the end of the first quarter of 2019;
- the opening of an additional 75 acute beds and 70 community beds during 2019, as part of the Winter Plan;
- preparation of 202 beds this year, to be operational in the first quarter of 2020, including beds in Mayo University Hospital.
Ministerial careers are not that long. Before he became Taoiseach at the age of 60, Enda Kenny had spent only two and a half years as a full Cabinet minister in his entire life, and that was as Minister for Tourism and Trade in the 1990s.