Health Minister Simon Harris issues apology and warns against spread of deadly flu virus
Thursday, 4 January saw 592 people waiting on trolleys or wards for a hospital bed across the country.
Health Minister Simon Harris has apologised to the hundreds of patients waiting for beds in hospitals across the country this week.
According to the country's specialists, Ireland is currently two weeks away from hitting peak flu season, and hospitals are already experiencing particularly intense strain on beds across the country.
Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced that Wednesday saw 677 people waiting on trolleys or in wards for a hospital bed around the country, with 592 still being stuck today.
Simon Harris released a statement on Wednesday thanking staff across the health service for their work during an extremely busy time.
The Health minister also spoke with the CEOs of the country's hospital groups, stating that what we're seeing in hospitals this week is unacceptable.
"The situations [patients] are in are not acceptable, but what we need to do is come up with solutions,'' Harris said.
"Of course [I'm apologising] - but I very much believe patients don't want an act of contrition from a Minister of Health [...] What they want is a plan, and they want a Minister with a plan - I want to assure them that I have that, and 2018 will see that advance."
More crucially, Minister Harris mentioned that he is concerned about the virus spreading ahead of schools reopening next week.
He said: "I am worried about the spread of the flu when kids go back to school.
"We're seeing a strain of flu that is affecting children this year we didn't see last year. I would advise parents, if your child is under the weather, please keep them home from school next week."
He added: "It is important if you have the flu in general, try not to spread it: stay at home; take advice on undertheweather.ie; consult your pharmacist and GP - don't just go to the ED, unless advised to do so my a medical professional."
Harris also insisted that the country's resources will indeed be put into improving the health sector.
He revealed: "I find it beyond puzzling that during Celtic Tiger Ireland, when this country had more money than sense, we reduced the number of hospital beds and we never built a new hospital. What we need now is a hospital building programme.
"I want to build more hospitals, I want to build more beds, I want to staff those beds - we now have the funding to be able to do that... It's crazy that it didn't happen during the last economic boom - I'm promising the people it will happen during this time of economic growth."