Health Minister wants to hear proposals to end 'vicious cycle' in health service

The HSE has announced several steps to try deal with overcrowding, including extra beds and help from private hospitals

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The Health Minister says he wants to hear proposals to end the 'vicious cycle' in the health service.

The Emergency Department Task Force is meeting this morning amid unprecedented numbers of people on trolleys this week.

Talks were brought forward by a week, after the number of patients on trolleys reached an all-time high of 612 on Tuesday.

Figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) today show there were 395 patients on trolleys in hospitals across the country this morning - a decrease of more than 180 compared to yesterday.

Last night, the HSE announced several steps to try and alleviate the crisis - including extra beds and help from private hospitals.

The HSE said they will be opening an additional 63 acute hospital beds, along with 60 Transitional Care Beds across 10 acute hospitals.

The beds will be opened immediately for the next four weeks in 10 hospitals. 

On his way into the meeting earlier, Health Minister Simon Harris said he wants to be the Minister who ends the crisis.

"People want to know what are we going to do to break this vicious cycle, that has gone on for around 20 years [and] has dogged the health system for two decades at least at this stage," he said.

Meanwhile, the INMO has warned they will likely go on strike next month after members voted in favour of industrial action.

General Secretary Liam Doran told Pat Kenny that nurses and midwives have had enough and will not return to work until there is major investment in the health service.

"The mandate we got was for strike days," he said. "Strike action [...] and continuous work to rule. If it happens it will be nationwide, and very disruptive".