591 patients waiting for beds in Irish hospitals

591 people are waiting for admission to hospitals today, including 433 who are waiting in Emergency Departments.

The worst hit hospitals, according to the INMO, are University Hospital Limerick with 60 patients on trolleys and Cork University Hospital with 65.

48 people are waiting to be admitted in Letterkenny University Hospital and 45 in Sligo University Hospital.

This is an increase of 150 on the same day last year when 441 people were on trolleys and in overflow wards nationwide.

There has also been a significant rise since yesterday when 508 people were waiting for admission.

Meanwhile, the Irish Medical Organisation insists many hospitals do not have the resources to keep hospital beds open during the Christmas break.

Representatives from the medical profession have been reacting to the Taoiseach's suggestion that some key staff should not take holidays in the first two weeks of the year.

Mr Varadkar suggested drastic measures were needed as the HSE’s winter plan “does not work”.

"We need to make sure that every bed is open. That is the kind of winter plan we need; not the kind we have had for years and years that does not work," he said yesterday.

The INMO did not rule out taking strike action over the festive season if its 40,000 members vote in favour of doing so.

The President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Kenneth Mealy said the challenges faced by Irish hospitals will not be fixed by simply not allowing people to take time off.

Labour's Health spokesperson Alan Kelly said the Taoiseach's comments were "completely out of touch".

"The Taoiseach and the Minister for Health are showing a lack of leadership by refusing to present a winter initiative plan to workers in our health service," he said.

The comments by the Taoiseach come in the backdrop as nurses in the INMO prepare to ballot to take industrial action over their pay. Taoiseach Varadkar’s inexperience is coming to the fore yet again making naive comments like this.

“It is a bit rich for Taoiseach Varadkar to criticise people taking annual leave at Christmas time, when the Dáil itself will take 4 weeks off over the Christmas period.

“The Taoiseach needs to reflect on his comments and figure out how his Government is going to sort out the issues of nurses’ pay and conditions,” he said.

Digital Desk

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