21 patients treated on trolleys at St Luke’s as Minister warns swine flu ‘has arrived’
TWENTY-ONE patients were being treated on trolleys at St Luke’s General Hospital today as Health Minister Simon Harris warned swine flu “has now arrived” in the country.
Hospitals across the country had enjoyed a relatively quiet festive period in terms of overcrowding in emergency departments and wards.
However, the number of patients left languishing on hospital trolleys jumped by more than 150 to 541 on Monday, according to the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) trolley and ward watch figures.
St Luke’s recorded the joint eleventh highest number of patients on trolleys of all the country’s hospitals, but it was still a drop of six from the 27 who were forced to wait for a bed on New Year’s Eve.
Minister Harris also pointed out that while there was a significant increase in the number of patients on trolleys on Monday, the figures are still 8% lower than they were on the same day last year.
However, the minister warned the health service is now entering a challenging period.
“The flu has now arrived,” he said, adding the strain of flu being experienced in the country was H1N1, or swine flu.
The minister said pregnant women and those under 65 with pre-existing conditions are most at risk from this strain of flu. He urged people in these categories to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
The INMO said the hospital worst hit by overcrowding on Monday was University Hospital Limerick, where 44 patients were treated on trolleys in the A&E department and wards.
Some 36 patients were recorded on trolleys at Letterkenny University Hospital, with the same number awaiting admission to a bed at Cork University Hospital.
Eight children were also treated on trolleys in the emergency department at Temple Street University Hospital.