There are almost 600 patients on trolleys at hospitals across the country today, according to the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation, which is preparing to ballot its members on industrial action.

In this region, the highest number on trolleys is at Sligo University Hospital, where 45 patients are waiting for admission to a bed.

There are 35 patients on trolleys at Galway University Hospital and 10 patients waiting for a bed at Mayo University Hospital.

 

The Irish Medical Organisation claims a lack of beds and resources, rather than doctors and nurses on Christmas holidays, are causing overcrowding in hospitals.

The IMO was responding to comments the Taoiseach made yesterday, that nurses and hospital consultants should not take holidays in early January.

Mr Varadkar told the Dail that a new HSE winter plan is needed where hospitals are not effectively closed for seven of the 12 days over Christmas and New Year.

The Taoiseach said that, in such a plan “consultants would not be on holidays in the first week of the year, particularly those who work in emergency departments and nurses will not be on leave in the first two weeks of January”.

He said radiology departments and laboratories should be open and operating “at full whack” over Christmas and new year.

However, Dr Peader Gilligan President of the Irish Medical Organisation said blaming doctors and nurses for the failures of the health system was not appropriate - when the reality is that the lack of capacity is the reason for overcrowding.

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