Fall in trolley numbers linked to less GP referrals due to Covid 19

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As the numbers of coronavirus rise, levels of patient overcrowding in hospitals have reduced dramatically, according to the latest statistics published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

University Hospital Limerick (UHL), which has been consistently the most overcrowded hospital in the country, has seen numbers of patients on trolleys in the 24-hour emergency department fall significantly in the wake of the spread of Covid-19.

Last January, prior to the potentially-deadly virus arriving on these shores, a record high 92 patients were recorded on trolleys in the Limerick hospital. Today, there were 11 patients on trolleys at UHL.

“It certainly hasn’t been that low in a long, long time”, said INMO head of communications Michael Pidgeon.

Six patients, who presented at UHL with symptoms of the virus, have tested positive. The six, include a family of four who recently travelled to northern Italy.

Two females who were in contact with one of the group tested positive for the virus.

All six are being treated in isolation rooms. The group includes a doctor who after returning from northern Italy treated patients, only after checking it was okay to do so with authorities.

A visiting ban announced last Friday at UHL and five other sites under the UL Hospitals Group, remains in place.

Cork University Hospital, which also issued a visitor ban, and is treating a patient who tested positive for Covid-19, had 12 patients on trolleys today.

There were eight hospitals with no patients on trolleys.

Mr Pidgeon said a link between the slacking off of numbers on trolleys and coronavirus, was “a likely explanation”, but added, “we can’t be certain”.

“I think this would be down to GPs not referring people to emergency departments, and people generally, maybe, staying clear of hospitals,” he said.

“We see that sometimes it happens during the flu season as well, that when there is particularly strong overcrowding, if it is a big story in the media, in the day or two after, it can dip a bit, just because people are aware that the hospital is overcrowded, and [they] make a decision to seek some alternative care.

Mr Pidgeon argued that, despite statistics showing a dramatic reduction in hospital overcrowding, “it is still indicative that we are well above 100% capacity”.

As the numbers of coronavirus rise, levels of patient overcrowding in hospitals have reduced dramatically, according to the latest statistics published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

    Useful information

  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department – if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999



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