Hospitals face ‘very challenging week’ as flu cases set to peak

Hospitals Face ‘Very Challenging Week’ As Flu Cases Set To Peak
HSE boss Bernard Gloster said systems were holding up well during the mid-winter pressures. Photo: PA Images
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By David Young, PA

Hospitals face a “very challenging week” as flu cases are set to peak, the boss of the HSE has said.

There were almost 300 patients waiting on trolleys for hospital beds on Sunday, and 375 surge capacity beds were in use.


Bernard Gloster said major strides had been made to improve capacity issues and reduce the numbers on trolleys across the last six months.

However, he said respiratory admissions were continuing to rise.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 6, 2021
Hospitals are experiencing a surge in admissions for respiratory linked conditions (PA)


“It’s the first week of a new year I can recall in my career when trolleys haven’t been the headlines of the media,” he told RTÉ.

“That said, there’s no room for complacency.

“Week 51 of the year (2023) saw combined influenza notified cases of about 1,831 – week one of this year, not yet fully complete on figures, it’s 2,645.

“Based on all the information available to me, we’re going to hit the height of the flu into this week. That will tail into the following week.


“So we are expecting significant pressure on the system. But at the moment we are, I think, holding relatively well.”

He added: “It’s certainly going to be a very challenging week ahead for us.”

Mr Gloster said there was a particular focus on ensuring hospitals were delivering maximum discharge rates at the weekend.

He said hospitals where discharge rates continued to drop on Saturdays and Sundays were being given “additional attention”.


“I have said many times before, the Irish healthcare system will not improve until we sustain our activity over seven days,” he said.

Mr Gloster said some elective surgeries had been cancelled amid the surge in flu cases.

However, he pointed out that staff had proactively not been scheduling elective procedures in December and January, due the expected mid-winter pressures on the system.

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