Ireland’s hospitals are struggling to cope with the ‘perfect storm’ of COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) patients, resulting in widespread overcrowding and lengthy delays.
Hospital waiting times have been a growing area of concern in recent weeks, reaching record levels on Tuesday, with 931 patients on trolleys while waiting for beds. This number decreased to 838 – the second-highest recorded figure – on Wednesday, a situation described as unacceptable by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The health system is currently struggling to cope with what Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on Tuesday said was a “perfect storm” of COVID-19, flu and RSV.
The minister warned that the situation would likely worsen and that patients and hospitals were under “very significant pressure”, despite “unprecedented” investment in the health system during the pandemic.
He added that the flu wave has yet to peak, noting that similar situations were unfolding in other European countries.
Steps taken by the government to alleviate the crisis include opening up an increased number of private hospital beds to public hospital patients.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for further action, with the body’s General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, describing the situation as an “out and out crisis”.
“Immediate and serious intervention”, beyond telling people to avoid hospitals and including the reintroduction of compulsory mask-wearing in crowded public areas, are needed, she said.
(Molly Killeen | EURACTIV.com)