SIPTU warns Hospital overcrowding is impacting on ambulance services

The Taoiseach has been accused of "shocking ignorance" of the problems facing the health service

SIPTU warns Hospital overcrowding is impacting on ambulance services

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SIPTU has moved to highlight the impact this week’s record Emergency Department overcrowding is having on the ambulance service.

The union has said a number of ambulances in the South West of the country had to wait with patients outside ED's.

It comes in the week the INMO recorded a record 2,400 people on hospital trolleys across the country.

483 patients were waiting on trolleys yesterday morning, according to the latest figures from the nursing union. That was down from a high of 677 on Wednesday.

The HSE figures, which don’t count patients on trolleys in wards, found 349 patients - including two children - were waiting for a bed, 14% more than on the same day last year.

SIPTU health division organiser Paul Bell said ambulance services have been severely impacted upon at University Hospital Kerry and both major hospitals in Cork City.

He said vehicles and emergency workers were forced to remain on site at the emergency departments for two hours at a time.

"Shocking ignorance"

Meanwhile the head of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has accused the Taoiseach of showing “shocking ignorance” of the health service, and the impact years of austerity have had on it.

It comes after Leo Varadkar expressed his frustration that that there has not been an improvement in the situation despite increased investment over the last three years.

Speaking to the Irish Times, IMO president Dr Ann Hogan said the investment barely keep pace with the underlying cost increases in the services, “let alone deal with the projected demand based on known demographics and the increase in the elderly population who have complex healthcare requirements.”

“We thought that successive Ministers were trying to fool the public,” she said. “Now it seems that they fooled themselves as well.”

Bed capacity

Separately the Government’s bed capacity review has found that between 7,000 and 9,000 additional hospital beds will be needed over the next decade if the existing model of healthcare continues.

The review found that that number could be significantly reduced if the proposed Sláintecare reforms are introduced.

Emergency Department Taskforce

The Emergency Department Taskforce is due to meet on Monday to discuss the overcrowding crisis.

It is one of the measures announced after a meeting yesterday between the HSE and the INMO.

Hospital managers have also been directed to meet with INMO representatives locally.