Updated: 05/01/17 : 06:27:21
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Hospital crisis 'to worsen' says Sligo consultant

A medical consultant has warned that the trolley crisis is "only going to worsen".

Dr Fergal Hickey of Sligo University Hospital said the influenza season has yet to reach its peak and disregarded the Health Minister’s comments that the trolley crisis was “unpredictable”.

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday Dr Hickey said the current situation is a crisis for the individual patient.

“It certainly is a crisis for the individual patient, even if it’s not a political crisis,” he said.

“I don’t accept unpredictability as a reason [for the number of patients on trolleys], perhaps things happened earlier than planned this year but that is not an excuse.

“There were 612 patients on trolleys yesterday, (Tuesday). The minister is being disingenuous.

“The influenza, at a normal background level, is 18 cases per 100,000 people. At the moment, we have 46.7 cases. And this is nowhere near what it’s likely to get to, which is 80.

“To suggest that [influenza season] is someway unpredictable or unprecedented is nonsense,” he continued.

“That’s the nature of an influenza season, the cases increase exponentially over weeks, reach peak and then tail off in a similar fashion. This information is known. The only issue is it occurred two or three weeks earlier than expected.”

Dr Hickey said the fundamental problem was the lack of beds to submit patients into hospital.

“It’s interesting that both Britain and Ireland have the greatest trolley crisis in Europe and we’re outliers when it comes to acute beds. The lack of capacity means we’re going to run into this problem.

“Unless we solve the capacity problem, we’re never going to get out of this mess.

“What the minister talks about is moving deck chairs around the Titanic. We need to deal with the fundamental problem which is the lack of capacity.  A lot of the discussion is around peripheral issues.”







Spike

The Irish Medical Organisation also said the crisis of overcrowding will continue until the cuts to bed numbers in public hospitals are reversed.

They also said Ireland needs to become an attractive location for Irish-trained doctors to want to work in.

"Politicians often complicate what is a very simple explanation for our overcrowding crisis," Dr Peadar Gilligan, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital and Chairman of the IMO Consultant Committee, said.

"It’s not because of seasonal issues or a spike in flu cases.

"It’s because politicians knowingly and deliberately took 1,600 beds out of our hospitals, introduced policies that were a direct cause of doctors emigrating and failed to invest in General Practice.

"All this at a time when our population was rising and there are more elderly people than ever before in need of healthcare.  It doesn’t get simpler than this; we’ve reduced the size of the container but we’re still trying to get more and more into it every day.  It just won’t work.”

Meanwhile HSE top management are to meet with the health minister Simon Harris today to discuss the ongoing crisis.

On Tuesday a record number of 612 patients waited nationally on trolleys for admission, (23 in Sligo) and on Wednesday the number dropped to 602, (22 in Sligo).