Tourists contributing to overcrowding at Kerry hospital emergency department

Hospital asks public to limit visits to ‘genuine’ emergencies

In a statement, the Kerry hospital said its emergency department has experienced significant overcrowding over the last 24-48 hours due to increased patient attendances.

In a statement, the Kerry hospital said its emergency department has experienced significant overcrowding over the last 24-48 hours due to increased patient attendances.

 

University Hospital Kerry has asked the public to limit their visits to “genuine” emergencies due to significant overcrowding.

In a statement, the Kerry hospital said its emergency department has experienced significant overcrowding over the last 24-48 hours due to increased patient attendances.

Members of the public are being asked to only attend in the case of a genuine emergency, and to consult a GP or out-of-hours service in the first instance, if possible.

“We are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep our ED services for the patients who need them most,” hospital management said.

People will be treated as a priority if they are seriously injured, or concerned that their life is at risk, the hospital added.

John Brassil, Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on primary care and community health, and a Kerry TD, said the hospital is under increased pressure due to tourists visiting the county during the summer months.

“They’re extremely busy. They’re looking at about 120 admissions per day, which would be well above normal,” he told RTÉ’s News at One. “Kerry being a tourism county, most of the counties would experience a reduction in population over the summer with people being on holidays and what not, but in Kerry our population more than doubles to more than 500,000.”

Mr Brassil said that improving homecare packages would help reduce the number of people waiting for hospital beds.

“People who are in hospital and are suitable to go home but cannot get the support they need to be discharged ... they are taking up very valuable beds in the hospital that could be used for those people down in A&E,” he said.

He added: “A combination of beds that are there, available but not being used, difficulty with homecare packages and increasing numbers has given you the perfect storm and we’re now under severe pressure.”

Breathing machine

Joe Nutall, a 72-year-old man who was waiting to be seen in the Tralee hospital on Thursday, said he decided to leave after five hours of waiting.

He claimed a staff member in the hospital told patients that: “If you’re not really an emergency, although I can’t tell you to go home, I would suggest that it might be better that you come back in the morning.”

“I took that advice. I’ve got COPD which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For that, I need a breathing machine at night because I stop breathing, which I hadn’t got with me, which they don’t have at the hospital, so the only way that I was going to be guaranteed that I was going to wake up in the morning, was to actually go home.”

Meanwhile Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, said it is “critical” that the hospital works with nursing homes to alleviate overcrowding issues.

Mr Daly said there are 17 private and voluntary nursing homes in Kerry, which have 740 registered beds that could be used to reduce pressure on hospital beds.

“Beds are available within nursing homes in Kerry and nearby Cork to provide specialist care to people requiring step-down care from University Hospital Kerry,” Mr Daly said. “We urge the HSE to ensure their engagement with patients preparing for discharge is timely and the necessary funding supports are made available to facilitate swift transfer from hospital back to the community.”

He added: “The potential offered by nursing homes to alleviate the severe overcrowding must be realised to support patient care in Co Kerry.”