Blood shortages loom as 620 people wait for a hospital bed

Warning of potential cuts to blood supplies to hospitals unless donations increase

There were 620 people on trolleys or on wards waiting for admission to a hospital bed on Tuesday, nurses have said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said there were 52 patients deemed to require admission by doctors waiting on trolleys or on wards for a bed at Cork University Hospital and at University Hospital Galway.

Meanwhile, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) warned the national blood supply had been severely depleted over the last week and supplies to hospitals could be affected if there was not a big increase in the level of donations.

It urged donors make a special effort to give blood, after clinics nationwide were cancelled due to the severe weather.


IBTS operations director Paul McKinney said on Tuesday: “As of this morning, we have just three days supply on average across all groups and just two days in O negative. We will be unable to guarantee supply to hospitals unless there is a significant increase in donations over the coming weeks to make up the shortfall.”

“With St Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend fast approaching and Easter on the horizon, we have limited time to get the blood supply stabilised so we are asking blood donors to make a special effort to give blood over the coming weeks when there is a clinic in their area which will help to restore blood supplies. We are aiming to collect 7,000 donations between now and St Patrick’s weekend”

"In addition to normal clinics, the IBTS is running four additional Sunday clinics on 11th March, these are in Waterford city, Drogheda, Co Louth, Celbridge, Co Kildare and Doon, Co Limerick. "

The overall number of 620 people on trolleys or on wards awaiting a bed on Tuesday represents a decrease on the level of overcrowding experienced on Monday.

On Monday there were 664 patients on trolleys and wards awaiting hospital beds.

The INMO said on Tuesday that there were 10 children on trolleys awaiting admission at Temple St Hospital and a further 3 children on trolleys at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.

In the main Dublin hospitals the largest level of overcrowding was recorded on Tuesday at the Mater Hospital where there were 31 patients in need of admission waiting on trolleys for a bed.

There were 28 patients on trolleys and on wards awaiting admission to a bed at Naas General Hospital on Tuesday, according to the INMO.

On Monday the Minister for Health Simon Harris warned the public that the health service would face a difficult and challenging week in the aftermath of the severe weather in recent days.

He urged the public to use the health service only in cases of emergency.

Mr Harris said the health service had gone through a number of days in which it was just not safe to discharge some patients due to adverse weather conditions, he said. And, in some cases, patients could not be sent back to nursing homes or others could not access home help services.

Mr Harris said it was going to take a number of days to clear the backlog.

He said “the best way to support frontline staff would be for people to try to only use health services if it is an emergency”.

He said people should look at other options such as attending their GP or going to local injury units rather than presenting at hospital emergency departments.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent