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Latest: Government taking action to avoid 'indignity' of trolley waits for hospital patients, says Taoiseach

Update 8.30pm: The Taoiseach insists the government is taking action to address the trolley crisis.

INMO figures show 544 patients were waiting on a bed in hospitals across the country today, a slight drop from 555 yesterday.

The HSE said the current flu season is adding to the problems; almost 20,000 people had it last week and it is not set to peak until next week.

Leo Varadkar says they will do all they can to fix the problem.

"I certainly don't want anyone to face the indignity or the risks that come with prolonged trolley waits in our hospitals," he said.

"The Minister for Health and his team are doing everything they can to alleviate the situation and we've given him authorisation to continue to increase the number of beds in our hospitals and also we've asked him to particularly focus on making sure that best practice is mainstreamed across our health service."

Update 3.15pm: Adult patients moved into children's wards in Tallaght Hospital due to overcrowding

Tallaght Hospital says it has been left with no choice but to give adults beds in one of its children's wards.

Management took the move following what they are calling an "unprecedented" rise in numbers turning up to its Emergency Department.

Hospital bosses say it is a temporary measure and all eight beds will go back to being used for children as soon as possible.

In a statement, Tallaght Hospital said the beds were temporarily reassigned from its paediatric Short Stay Observation Unit which is temporarily closed.

"In response to an unprecedented increase in the number of ED attendances (+12%) who are of a higher medical need (+44% Triage category 1 &2) and demand on bed capacity for adult admissions (+25%), Tallaght Hospital has temporarily reassigned an eight bedded facility adjacent to the adult ED.

"The additional beds have been drawn from an area of the Hospital’s paediatric Short Stay Observation Unit which is temporarily closed. The Hospital has put in place all requisite measures to facilitate the change of use of this unit.

"This is a temporary measure and unfortunately necessary as all adult escalation areas and beds are in use. The beds in question will revert to the Paediatric service in due course.

"The Hospital is making every effort to balance the demands of both adult and paediatric services. There were 29 adult patients on trolleys and no paediatric patients awaiting beds/on trolleys at 8am this morning.

"The Hospital would like to apologise to patients for any delays they may experience during this busy period."

Earlier 06:39am: Hospital bed capacity review coming before the end of the month, says Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris plans to bring a review of bed capacity to Government before the end of the month.

He also plans to outline a date for GP talks in the next two weeks.

It comes amidst overcrowding in Emergency Departments and the growing flu problem.

Health officials are due to give an update on the situation later today, while the INMO said 551 people were wating on hospital trollies yesterday

That figure is not likely to fall during the current flu season.

Minister Harris said he is committed to finding solutions.

"I'm very conscious that our health service is still going through an extraordinarily difficult time but as I've said consistently through this period of time: while I'm frustrated at what is going, I want to put all my energies into making sure we do break that cycle," he said.

"I think we have spent the last year - cross parties - working on the building blocks. We now know what they are and I also want to look at interim plans to get additional capacity into the system as soon as possible."

-Digital Desk