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New Year brings no end to hospital overcrowding in Galway

Two of Galway’s public hospitals started the New Year as they finished 2023 – overcrowded with patients on trolleys as respiratory illnesses piled pressure on Emergency Departments.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said people with Covid-19 attending EDs nationwide almost doubled to 282 last week, while there was a massive increase in people with flu attending EDs (538).

Locally, that meant the EDs at University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula University Hospital were under pressure.

On Friday, January 5, there were 40 patients on trolleys in ED at UHG, and a further 11 on trolleys in Ballinasloe.

The HSE said increasing community infection rates of respiratory diseases will lead to increased outbreaks in hospitals, nursing homes and residential care facilities, “potentially affecting the most vulnerable people”.

The HSE said its hospitals and community services were braced for the post-Christmas demand, but it said the increase in Covid-19 and flu was “very steep” and urged the public to stay away from EDs unless it was a major health emergency.

The public has been asked to consult their pharmacy or before going to GPs or EDs.

Anyone with respiratory disease symptoms has been asked to avoid visiting hospitals or nursing homes.

Dr Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer said the system was currently experiencing a delayed peak in flu season, which “will inevitably lead to further pressures throughout the healthcare system”.

He said it was not too late to get vaccinated for flu or Covid, with full details on

Dr Éamonn O’Moore, Director of National Health Protection said the new variant of Covid (JN.1) was becoming the dominant strain.

“This variant may be more transmissible than previous variants, resulting in more infections. We are still collating data in Ireland and internationally on whether it will result in more illness requiring hospital care but at this time we are not seeing that signal.

“However, with more infection around, there is greater risk some people who are vulnerable could become ill and require hospital care and we still need to protect our vulnerable members of society, children, and adults, by doing what we can to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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