Foreseeing the winter hospital crisis


Sir, – To assist  Simon Harris with the advance notice he seeks, I checked out Nostradamus’s efforts for 2017 and beyond. I found routine predictions , such as volcanoes, earthquakes,  planet-burning radiation, economic collapse, etc, but unfortunately no suggestion that humans might contract influenza or winter-related illness this winter.  

So, the Minister is going to have to rely on the HSE’s own Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s website’s information, on the basis of which the necessary predictions could quite easily be made. The latest bulletin (December 12th) urged high-risk groups to take action as flu cases were increasing.  – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – God forbid that some national emergency or serious accident might occur and necessitate admissions to hospital constituting real “unforeseen circumstances”. Can Minister for Health Simon Harris put our minds at rest and tell us how hospitals would then be able to cope and by what measures? Perhaps a journalist might report on how many closed wards or empty beds  that  are currently to be found in our hospitals on a daily basis. – Yours, etc,


 Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir,  – As someone who has slept on hospital trolleys on several occasions, I wish to point out that they are in fact quite comfortable to sleep on.

The problem with trolleys is that they are placed on noisy, busy and draughty corridors so that one is deprived of privacy and sleep. Indeed, so bad is the privacy issue that I have even seen anatomical parts of a neighbouring patient,  while the doctor was examining him, that should never have been exposed to a stranger. The screens placed around his trolley to ensure privacy during medical examination were quite inadequate.

One of your readers (Letters, January 5th) correctly suggested that the trolleys be placed on hospital corridors, which are calm and peaceful. Patients would be better able to retain their dignity there, and this simple measure could be implemented by the Minister at a stroke of his pen.   – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Minister for Health Simon Harris seems taken aback at the idea that the present demand for hospital beds could be predicted. Has he never heard of risk assessment?

As a secondary school principal in England, I was required to provide and keep an up-to-date detailed disaster plan to meet all likely eventualities. It worries me that Simon Harris could not foresee what most of his fellow citizens considered a strong likelihood.

I hate to predict the score that Enda Kenny will award his unimaginative Minister for Health. – Yours, etc,


Killarney, Co Kerry.

Sir, – Minister for Health Simon Harris’s assertion that the current crisis in the health system could not be foreseen rings very hollow. Of course it could be foreseen. It’s called forward planning, a process that attempts to predict the worst-case scenario (and the best case) and put in place a realistic plan to alleviate any emergency that might arise. The HSE, with an increased I4 billion budget and an obscene increase in management resources, seems powerless to produce a solution, and year after year we have the same issues arising. It’s time for a total rethink, a clear-out of a management team that consistently fails and, unfortunately, a callow youth of a Minister who, however well-intentioned and talented, is another in a long line of ministerial failures. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.