One Galway hospital will have to struggle on for at least another year before its 12-bed capacity is increased
The overcrowding issue in Emergency Departments will not be solved until new beds are open, according to one Galway consultant.
This week it emerged that a 95-year-old patient was left waiting for 56 hours on a trolley at University Hospital Galway.
The number of people on trolleys in the country’s hospitals rose yesterday to 539, with the Health Service Executive reporting that 215 of them were waiting over nine hours.
John O'Donnell, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospital Galway, told Newstalk Breakfast that in his 12-bed Emergency Department today, 27 patients who have already been seen and treated by his staff are waiting on trolleys to be admitted to the hospital.
"Of those, eight (patients) are waiting for more than 24 hours - six of them are over 75 years of age... The hospital's job is done, but the patients are stuck because there isn't the capacity within the hospital."
Mr O'Donnell says the situation is "frustrating" and "demoralising", and certainly "not right".
He adds: "The Minister for Health and the Taoiseach have acknowledged that the Emergency Department here is not fit for purpose, it is too small for the numbers that we see.
We seeing up to 220/230 patients a day here, yet we have 12 cubicles to work from - most of them are full all the time".
His department has an average of 20 patients on trolleys every day - meaning they are constantly in "full capacity protocol", a designation that is designed for when the situation escalates to an unacceptably high level.
O'Donnell says hospital management are trying to solve the problem, but there will not be enough capacity for another year, when a new building will open.
That new unit will provide a net gain of 30-40 beds.