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Full capacity protocol invoked 3,541 times in hospitals in 2017 - Louise O'Reilly TD

21 February, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that the implementation of full capacity protocol 3,541 times in hospitals across the state in 2017 is a signal of a health service beyond crisis point.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Full capacity protocol is a hospital’s highest level measure for dealing with emergency department overcrowding. In a properly functioning health service it should be implemented only in exceptional circumstances.

“That it was invoked 3,541 in hospitals across the State in 2017 is unacceptable and a signal of a health service beyond crisis point, for patients and staff. It is the last stage of escalation under a national framework issued in 2015 to hospitals to deal with overcrowding.

“The situation was particularly severe in Waterford where full capacity protocol was invoked on 327 occasions, Limerick saw it 294 times, Letterkenny 242 times, and Galway 298 times.

“When full capacity protocol is invoked much of the normal activity of the hospital is suspended, additional patients are moved onto wards and hallways outside of emergency units and oftentimes elective surgeries at the hospital can be cancelled.

“Some hospital consultants have relayed to me that because of full capacity protocol being invoked continuously and huge numbers of patients on trolleys that electives surgeries haven’t been carried out in their hospitals since before Christmas.

“The situation puts huge pressure on patients and their families and it puts huge pressure on staff in our hospitals.

“Imagine how it feels for patients whose surgery has been cancelled at the eleventh hour when they are in chronic pain and may have arranged time off work or for someone to look after their children. This is the outworking of the invocation of full capacity protocol.  

“All the while the staff we have are doing an amazing job, but the situation is demoralising for them. They are under severe pressure, they are overworked and underpaid.

“The addressing of the staffing and capacity crisis in our hospitals is moving at a snail’s pace despite this being this being a national emergency. We need to see the full weight of the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Government put behind addressing this crisis in order to scale back this crisis."

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