Health Minister says reduction in flu rates will aid ongoing trolley crisis

However, the Minister continues to recommend vaccination for at-risk groups

Health Minister says reduction in flu rates will aid ongoing trolley crisis

Simon Harris speaking in the Castlebar Convention Centre in 2015 | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) say the number of people waiting on trolleys and wards stands at 484 patients - down from 510 yesterday.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is the most overcrowded today with 32 people on trolleys. Of those in need of a bed 336 are in emergency departments.

Speaking at the National Treatment Purchase Fund Conference in Kilmainham, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the figure is down around 10% on this day last year, and a "significant reduction" on recent busy periods.

"The health service has been going through an extraordinarily busy time", he said, adding new figures from the National Pandemic Health Expert group show a reduction in the flu rate this week in comparison to last week.

He continued to recommend vaccination for at-risk groups, including older people and people with chronic diseases.

Minister Harris thanked frontline staff for working despite "difficult circumstances", saying the benefit of additional measures - such as transitional care beds and greater access to diagnostic care - can be seen.

'Disingenuous' to blame nursing homes for overcrowding

Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland disputed claims that non-availability or non-accessibility of nursing home beds are responsible for a hospital bed crisis.

CEO Tadhg Daly said: "It is disingenuous to attribute the overcrowding in hospitals with nursing homes. Nursing home care is fulfilling a lead role in supporting persons to be discharged from hospital care back into the community for transitional or long-term care. 

"Despite there being hundreds of beds available within nursing homes on an ongoing basis, the A&E taskforce refuses to engage with private and voluntary nursing homes with view to alleviating the perennial crises of overcrowding within our acute hospitals. We engage with the HSE on an ongoing basis to inform of bed availability within nursing homes in counties across Ireland and inform of the acute hospitals the particular nursing homes accept residents from."