The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine has said that many of Ireland's 28 emergency departments have seen record daily numbers of patients in the past few weeks, which has resulted in severe congestion and delays, particularly for those with less acute care needs.
It said this sharp increase is occurring at a time when very few emergency departments have a fully functioning suite of ICT as a result of the cyber attack on the Health Service Executive in mid-May.
The association said this is in turn contributing to delays, as many previously ICT-enabled processes continue to have to be performed manually or are being performed with significantly limited ICT functionality.
EDs are seeing referrals of patients with significant clinical problems, which would typically have been seen in primary care and referred to outpatient type services many months ago, but in the absence of access to these services the need for care has become more acute.
Doctors say this is adding to the increasing numbers of patients presenting as a result of typical summer and holiday injuries and the normal throughput of medical emergencies.
The IAEM said the fact that the effects of the cyber attack are still so significant so long after the attack is a reflection of the level of destruction the attack wreaked on the HSE’s ICT infrastructure.
It said that while many might understandably assume the problem had been resolved at this stage, this is very far from the case.
Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said there were 215 patients in emergency departments today waiting for admission to a bed.
Speaking at the weekly HSE Covid-19 briefing, Chief Operations Officer Anne O'Connor said that emergency departments are very busy, with 199 patients on trolleys today.
She said there is an increased rate of presentation and acuity of illness seen at emergency departments, as GPs can not access diagnostics and the rate of admission in hospitals has also risen.
She said that with the reopening of society, there are more injuries and accidents.
Ms O’ Connor said that on Monday, the health service had just 162 free beds.
She warned that there could be a big impact on emergency departments and trolley numbers in the weeks ahead.