Highest trolley count at Limerick hospital on week of new overcrowding record

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The Health minister also spoke with the CEOs of the country's hospital groups, stating that what we're seeing in hospitals this week is unacceptable. "Minister Harris must take these figures on board when considering the future of Portlaoise Hospital", said the TD.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has apologised to patients who have experienced long delays and waits on trolleys in emergency departments.

Today's trolley watch figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have revealed that 30 people are awaiting a proper bed at the A&E department in Tullamore Hospital.

He expressed his regret and frustration at the situation and that there has not been an improvement despite increased investment.

The second highest rate of overcrowding this week was at St Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, with 191 patients on trolleys, followed by Cork university Hospital with 136 patients.

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"Of course [I'm apologising] - but I very much believe patients don't want an act of contrition from a Minister of Health [.] What they want is a plan, and they want a Minister with a plan - I want to assure them that I have that, and 2018 will see that advance".

She said that Mr Varadkar's "version of stability involves a 92 per cent bed occupancy on average, 500-plus patients waiting for admission on trolleys, nearly 700,000 patients waiting for an outpatient appointment, an ever-increasing number of cancelled operations and procedures, and a general practice system which is struggling to meet demand and is near to collapse".

He said that the shortage of hospital beds is a "complex issue" without one solution, but that there are far more effective, economically viable and compassionate to having sick people on hospital trolleys.

The public is being advised to attend the emergency department only in the case of real emergencies.

Dr Foran said the challenge for the hospital has been to find isolation beds to treat patients with the flu.

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She said: "This latest trolley crisis is a national disgrace and is intolerable for both patients and staff - but it is also absolutely predictable".

In a statement, hospital management says the A&E unit is 'extremely busy'.

He said that people with flu-like symptoms should visit or phone their Global Positioning System rather than go to the hospital's Emergency Department.

Nearly 200 people have been hospitalised with the flu and a small number - less than 10- of people have died.

He welcomed the increase in the uptake of the flu vaccine among health staff, but said he wanted it even higher.

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