It is still “too early to say” when the crisis in Irish hospitals will end, the HSE’s Lead Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has said.
Last week, there were 931 people waiting on hospital trolleys - the highest since records began in 2006 - and this morning there were 489.
Officials say the crisis is being driven by a surging number of COVID and flu cases and it is not possible to say when it will be over.
“This is a higher, longer, more protracted flu season than we’ve had in many years and it’s one that’s happening with a new virus - which is COVID,” Dr Henry told Newstalk Breakfast.
“The impact of these viruses on our healthcare system has not yet finished and even if it peaks in the coming weeks, there’ll be quite a tail to it with ongoing pressure for a number of weeks after.
“So, it’s too early to say that the good results of the weekend represent a turnaround and that we’re not going to see further pressure in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s more likely than not that we will see ongoing pressures.”
Much of the backlog was cleared after health care workers volunteered to work additional hours during the week and on the weekend.
Dr Henry said the health service “aspires” to be fully staffed seven days a week in the long-term.
“The new consultants’ contract reflects that - it’s looking at a working week that is six days rather than five days,” he said.
“But it is important to remind people that our hospitals, our consultants, our nurses, our porters, our lab staff all work weekends and provide additional hours beyond their contracted hours and provide discretionary extra work because of the nature of the profession that they’re in.”
Last week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the Government’s programme of reform will improve the health service in the long-term.
“We’re in the middle of the single biggest expansion of our public service and reform of our public service there has ever been,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“So, over the last three years we have record beds, record diagnostics, record workforce.
“We’ve authorised the building of several new hospitals and we’re building up critically, an entire new community healthcare service because many, probably most, of the solutions to the ED pressures are not found in the emergency departments.
You can listen back to Dr Henry here:
Main image: The Mater Hospital in Dublin. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie