Trolley numbers to hit 1,000 in health service this winter
Numbers on trolleys will reach over 1,000 as winter sets in
Winter is coming – and with it increased pressure on our health service.
Ireland’s already-stretched hospitals face another chaotic winter, the President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned.
A lack of emergency department resources, a lack of beds and a lack of recruitment will combine to create a “perfect storm” in Irish hospitals this winter.
That will lead to over 1,000 people being left on trolleys and a severely hampered health service, says Dr Peadar Gilligan, President of the IMO.
“The IMO has long warned that you cannot have a removal of resources without an impact on services. Successive governments’ lack of investment in our health service will be seen in hospitals across the country this winter.
“We will be told in January that it is a ‘flu crisis’ or a ‘winter crisis’ – it is not. It is a failure of policy,” he added.
Winter is traditionally a busy period in hospitals, with a spike in seasonal illnesses and injuries adding extra strain, but Dr Gilligan says that these demands could be met with investment in both infrastructure and recruitment.
“We cannot expect to have a health service which is meeting the demands of the population when we are training doctors to send them abroad. A sustained campaign of recruitment – backed fully by government – is needed to fill existing vacancies and improve services.
“Patients being cared for in dangerously overcrowded Emergency Departments is a function of an acute hospital system working beyond its available capacity. The capacity constraints include nearly 500 unfilled consultant posts and 2650 less beds than we currently require in Irish hospitals and a need for over 1000 additional General Practitioners.”
The IMO says that the answer to the looming crisis has three solutions:
- A major investment in acute beds.
- A recruitment campaign to attract more consultants to Irish hospitals and an end to the two-tier contract which leaves new consultants since 2012 earning 30% less than their colleagues.
- A widespread investment in general practice and primary care.