Patients were forced to lie on trolleys at South Tipperary General Hospital on several days over Christmas and New Year due to overcrowding while some beds at the hospital were closed for the Christmas and New Year.
The hospital’s Emergency Department came under so much pressure last Wednesday, December 28 that 11 patients were on trolleys awaiting transfer to beds, according to the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation.
And on New Year’s Eve, people attending the hospital observed at least seven patients on trolleys in corridors at the ED Overcrowding was still a problem at STGH yesterday (Tuesday) with the INMO’s Trolley Watch survey reporting five patients on trolleys at the hospital in the morning.
The problem began shortly before the Christmas holiday break. There were six patients reported on trolleys at the hospital on Thursday, December 22.
The HSE admitted that there were beds closed at STGH over the Christmas holiday period but didn’t disclose how many.
HSE spokesman Fiachra O’Ceilleachair said the beds were closed because South Tipperary General Hospital does not provide planned, non-emergency medical procedures over the Christmas and New Year period as there was traditionally a “low through-put of elective surgery - as people generally do not want to be in hospital over the seasonal period”.
He said all essential services including emergency admissions, continued to operate as normal during this period of time.
Mr O’Ceilleachair described the number of patients presenting to South Tipperary General Hospital ED Unit on December 28 as “unprecedented” and put the cause down to the traditional increase in cold and flu-like illnesses at this time of the year.
He said the hospital monitored the situation very carefully and ensured that all those waiting for treatment and admission were accommodated in a manner that was dignified and respectful in the circumstances. “No one was waiting on trolleys by that afternoon,” he said.
Mr O’Ceilleachair said the HSE and South Tipperary General Hospital regretted the inconvenience caused and wished to assure patients and the general public that staff worked particularly hard to minimise any inconvenience that arose.