Winter period will feature more trolley waits and increased pressure, says HSE boss

Bernard Gloster set to apologise for those affected in opening statement to the Oireachtas Committee on Health

More than 40 patients a day now need access to an acute bed in advance of a winter period which will feature more trolley waits and increased pressure, the head of the HSE will tell an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday.

In his opening statement to the Oireachtas Committee on Health, chief executive at the Health Service Executive (HSE) Bernard Gloster will say that while attendances at hospitals remain on a par with last year, within these numbers a greater number of patients have been admitted, resulting in 40 more patients per day needing an acute bed or a 4.4 per cent increase year on year.

He is set to apologise for those affected by trolley waits and hospital service pressures.

“There is little doubt that as we face this coming period, trolley waits and pressures will be a feature of our services and the focus of the HSE is to ensure that these are not only to the minimum extent possible but also that there is a pathway to continuous improvement. I want to repeat our sincere regret to any person who has a bad experience while waiting to access our services including those who have to wait in emergency departments beyond an acceptable time frame. I particularly want to recognise older people and those who find themselves in vulnerable situations and to restate our commitment that their care and comfort will be a priority even when some waiting is unavoidable.”


Mr Gloster will tell the committee of plans to move away the annually published “winter plans”.

Instead a new unscheduled management plan will run for the coming winter period. He is also expected to outline a series of improvements to hospital experiences.

“Year on year trolley waits have dropped by an average of 21 per day or 6.5 per cent and while recognising some individual site variations and challenges this is to be welcomed.”

Delayed transfers of care out of hospitals have also moved from a high of between 550 and 600 earlier this year to around 474 earlier this month. Mr Gloster will also tell politicians that a new framework for private hospital use at times of pressure will be used in the weeks ahead.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times