Children’s hospitals ‘extremely busy’ due to increasing number of RSV patients

Common virus causes coughs and colds and is the main cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in very young children

Children’s hospitals have warned they are “extremely busy” due to an increasing number of patients falling ill with a common winter virus.

Respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV, is a virus that causes coughs and colds and it is the main cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in very young children.

In a statement on Friday evening, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) said it has seen an increase in patients presenting to its emergency departments and being admitted to hospital with RSV in the last week.

As a result, the statement said, CHI emergency departments in Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght are now extremely busy, and “we regret that children with less serious illnesses may experience long waiting times”.


Dr Paddy Fitzpatrick, a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine in CHI, said there are things that parents and caregivers can do to help curb the spread of the virus and keep infants safe.

“While seasonal RSV is circulating at a high level, my advice to people looking after very small infants, under 3 months in particular, is to try to cocoon them and avoid having them in large crowds. It is also so important that when we are sick ourselves or have children who are sick that we keep away from other children where possible,” he said.

“I understand it’s tough for parents who are working, but it’s also vital that children with cold or flu like illnesses don’t go to creche or school until they are feeling better to try to avoid spreading these viruses.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned waiting lists for child inpatient and day case treatment have “significantly” increased over the past year and could deteriorate further this winter due to expected severe overcrowding in paediatric hospitals due to the flu and RSV.

On Friday, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) published the latest figures which confirm that 883,300 people were on some form of hospital waiting list at the end of October, of which 96,700 were children.

Since October 2022, child inpatient and day case waiting lists have increased by 13 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

In October 2022, there were 4,188 child day cases, which rose to 5,706 this October. For inpatient cases, the figures rose from 3,563 to 4,021.

Prof Rob Landers, president of the IHCA, said:Thousands of children are not getting the care they need in a timely manner, which is resulting in the real possibility that they will suffer serious and lasting health and developmental issues that could have been reversed or mitigated against if only the hospital capacity existed to ensure they can be provided with the care they need on time.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times