Patients on trolleys at Mayo A&E rose by 130% during first four months of 2018

FRESH concerns have been raised over the substantial increase in overcrowding at Mayo University Hospital's emergency department over the first four months of 2018.

Local TD Lisa Chambers said there was a sharp increase in trolley numbers of over 130% at the facility compared to the same period last year.

The Castlebar-based representative indicated that the situation is unsustainable.

Responding to her concerns in relation to the situation, Health Minister Simon Harris said in the context of a difficult winter for the health services, exacerbated by the adverse weather associated with Storm Emma, the first four months of the year saw a higher overall level of trolleys nationally, up 13.9%, as compared with the same period last year.

He eleborated: "This increase reflects a rise in demand for unscheduled care, characterised by increased attendances and admissions, in particular, from those in the over 75 age group.

"In relation to Mayo University Hospital, there was a sharp increase in trolley numbers of over 130% between January and April 2018, compared to the same period last year.

"I am advised by the HSE that the key drivers for this significant increase were an 8% increase in overall ED attendances, a 15% rise in attendances of people over 75 years of age, a 13.7% rise in overall admissions and a rise of 15.1% in admissions of the over 75 age group, whose needs tend to be more complex leading to a longer length of stay.

"I am committed to continuing the effort to address overcrowding in our EDs, and in particular, improving the capacity of the system to respond during periods of peak demand, such as winter.

"In this context, I have asked my department to work with the HSE to identify the location and mix of beds across the hospital system which can be opened and staffed this year and into 2019 in order to improve preparedness for winter 2018/2019.

"Moreover, the government has approved a record level of capital investment in health at €10.9 billion over the next 10 years.

"This will provide for a major enhancement of the capacity of our health services to meet demand.

"Finally, a review of the Winter Initiative 2017/2018 is being undertaken, which will inform a three-year plan for unscheduled care, as well as supporting the provision of additional capacity in winter 2018/19."