Trolley Crisis: Minister says review of bed capacity is underway

A consultant in Emergency Medicine in the North West says a lack of beds remain the root cause of the trolley crisis each year.

Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Sligo University Hospital, Dr. Fergal Hickey, says that until bed capacity is increased the problem will continue.

The HSE and the Minister for Health say the trolley figures which remain above 600 today are due to the very contagious nature of the flu.

Minister Simon Harris says older people have been worst affected by this year’s flu and he’s now urging everyone – young or old – to get vaccinated against it in an effort to reduce the spread.

However, Dr. Fergal Hickey who is the spokesperson for the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine says this situation which reached a peak yesterday in hospitals nationwide could have easily been prevented:

He says the underlying problem remains bed capacity and the HSE and the Minister can resolve this trolley problem by addressing that problem.

He says Ireland has nearly half the bed capacity of the recommended levels worldwide.

However, defending efforts to tackle the beds issue, the Minister for Health Simon Harris said today a review is underway and that if it shows it’s not up to scratch, he’ll deal with it.

However, he says there are also other ways the situation can be dealt with:

Meanwhile, responding to claims that drunk people were taking up resources at the emergency department in Sligo over Christmas, Dr. Hickey says there’s no room for being judgemental when treating anyone needing medical care:

Today the figures have reduced slightly but remain high with 602 patients on trolleys around the country.

They have dropped from 33 at Letterkenny University Hospital to 19 but remain much the same at Sligo University Hospital where 22 people remain on trolleys.