Galway hospital capacity warning "a terrible precursor to a difficult winter"

Galway University Hospital has appealed to patients not to attend the ED unless absolutely necessary

There are concerns this evening that a full capacity warning at University Hospital Galway could be a sign of things to come this winter.

The hospital has appealed to patients not to attend the emergency department unless absolutely necessary - with large numbers of people awaiting admission.

Patients are facing significant delays before receiving treatment.

Hospital managers have said efforts are underway to discharge as many people as possible – with the hospital’s full capacity protocol in effect.

Patients have been urged to attend their GP or local primary care centre before presenting at the hospital.

Urgent action

Responding to the announcement, Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher warned that “urgent action” is needed.

He said a capacity warning in September is “a terrible precursor to a difficult winter for the Irish health service.”

“Excessive numbers of people lying on trolleys awaiting admittance is a direct result of limited capacity in the hospital’s wards,” he said.

“Until Minister Harris brings forwards costed, detailed plans to increase bed capacity across the health service, but in particular in UHG, we will continue to see sick people on trolleys.”

Winter period

He said “dangerously long assessment and treatment times” have become the norm in Irish hospitals over recent years.

“It’s not acceptable,” he said. “The weather is relatively fine right now.”

“What will happen if a major flu pandemic takes hold over the winter months?

“If EDs in hospitals such as UHG are already swamped in September, what will it be like in January?”

Figures from the INMO this afternoon found that there are at least 416 patients waiting for treatment on trolleys and in wards around the country.