The Minister for Finance has described presentations to emergency departments as “way above and beyond” what would have been expected in a worst case scenario by the HSE.
Michael McGrath was speaking ahead of an event at University College Cork on Friday.
The Minister acknowledged the seriousness of the current situation in hospitals across the country, and said more capacity needs to be added to the healthcare system.
It comes as there were 64 patients waiting on trolleys for a hospital bed across Cork City on Friday morning. Cork University Hospital recorded the highest number of patients waiting on trolleys across the country, according to Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) TrolleyWatch figures.
There were 46 patients waiting on trolleys in the hospital, 43 of whom were in the ED and three of whom were in wards elsewhere. At the Mercy University Hospital, there were 18 patients awaiting a hospital bed in the ED.
“I think we should acknowledge the combination of events that we are dealing with at this time is exceptional in nature, with the combination of Covid and flu and RSV. The number of presentations that we are seeing at our EDs all over the country is way above and beyond what would have been expected even in a worst case scenario by the HSE,” Minister McGrath said.
“The key demand that I have been listening to over the last couple of weeks from experts is the need to add capacity.” Minister McGrath said “significant progress” has already been made in that regard but acknowledged the need to accelerate the recruitment of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals and add more beds to the system.
He said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will now work with the HSE to “try to do that in an accelerated form”. When asked when we could expect to see a winter without a crisis in our hospitals, the Minister said this remains to be the aim of the Government.
“We recognise that when we came into Government two and a half years ago there was a very significant shortage of bed capacity in our country and we have made the biggest stride forward in adding capacity over the last two and a half years than at any time in our previous history,” Mr McGrath said.
“We have a growing population, it’s growing more quickly than expected, we also have an aging population, thankfully people are living longer but not always more healthily, and people are having to present with health challenges and we have to respond to that,” he added.