Public hospital waiting lists look set to take a big hit over the coming weeks in Ireland

Public hospital waiting lists look set to take a big hit over the coming weeks in Ireland

Public hospital waiting lists look set to take a big hit over the coming weeks in Ireland, with record hospital overcrowding recorded.

On Tuesday January 3 last, there were 931 patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments or on wards, waiting to be admitted to a bed.

The previous highest record was 760 patients on trolleys on one day in late December.

The crisis is leading to cancelled operations and even private hospitals being used to help public hospitals cope.

Some of the overcrowding is put down to systemic problems – a shortage of acute beds, staff and physical capacity. Some of it is also being blamed on a rise in flu cases, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

There are warnings that the flu has not peaked and that the crazy levels of overcrowding could get worse over the next few weeks.

The Irish public service broadcaster, RTÉ News, has broadcast undercover footage it filmed in recent days showing the conditions in some of the worst hit emergency departments.

The footage has shocked many people.

One of the worst affected hospitals was Limerick University Hospital with almost 100 patients waiting in terrible conditions.

Cork University Hospital was not much better.

The Health Service Executive has asked as many consultants as possible to attend hospitals at weekends in January to help manage the crisis and discharge patients.

The Government insists it is doing all it can to ease the pressures but its Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is under big pressure.

This crisis will undoubtedly have a huge impact on hospital waiting lists.