Record 656 patients waiting for hospital bed

Large number on trolleys in Kilkenny Hospital

According to its latest "Trolley and Ward Watch" figures, 2,408 is "a record figure for any calendar year since the Trolley Watch began".

Nationally, there was a six percent increase in the numbers on trolleys, with around 99,000 admitted patients recorded as awaiting a hospital bed.

Across the border in Portlaoise Hospital, 25 patients are awaiting a bed, while there are 31 in a similar situation in Mullingar.

The worst affected hospital today was St Luke's in Kilkenny with 57 patients waiting, followed by University Hospital Limerick 55, South Tipperary 45, Cork University Hospital 38 and Letterkenny 35.

He quoted a separate count by Health Service Executive (HSE) managers, which put the number on trolleys at 344 on Tuesday afternoon, and said it was the lowest numbers of people waiting for a bed at this time of year for three years.

However, he said a number of steps were taken in advance of this week to educe the pressure on hospitals where possible including an investment in home-care services, reviewing patients who had been in hospital for seven days and extended diagnostic services.

Minister Harris held a teleconference with the chief executives of the country's hospital groups to discuss the overcrowding crisis and said he was satisfied that everything that can be done is being done.

The number of patients on trolleys hit a new high of 677 earlier this week.

"High levels of burnout have been reported amongst nurses working in overcrowded environments", she said.

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The Irish Medical Organisation says Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe must commit the necessary funding to end the trolley crisis.

He said he would like to break the cycle of overcrowding in the health service and that capacity needs to be increased.

Ms. Ni Sheaghdha warned: "There is ample evidence which confirms that high ED occupancy is associated with increased in-hospital mortality following admission from overcrowded EDs".

He said it was likely the flu season had not yet peaked.

Harris said: "While recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we must continue to ensure the lessons that can be learned from those hospitals performing better are applied across the system".

Dr Foran said the challenge for the hospital has been to find isolation beds to treat patients with the flu.

The HSE, meanwhile, is urging high-risk groups to get the flu vaccine as the flu has started actively circulating in Ireland.

Nearly 200 people have been hospitalised with the flu and a small number - less than 10- of people have died.

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