An ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, combined with a major increase in patients seeking treatment, is resulting in long waiting times for patients at University Hospital Galway.
The hospital this week apologised to people experiencing such delays at its emergency department (ED ).
A spokesperson said there was a "significant increase" in patients presenting to the hospital and many of these were very sick and needed to be admitted.
There were 54 patients, the highest figure in the country, waiting for beds at its ED yesterday (Wednesday ), according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's trolley watch figures. Forty-eight of those were waiting on trolleys in the emergency department while six were waiting in wards. There were 19 patients waiting for beds at Portiuncula University Hospital on Wednesday, 10 of whom were waiting in the ED and nine in wards.
The situation at UHG has been exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak on the site, according to the spokesperson. This is having a significant impact on critical care services at the hospital.
"The hospital is dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards with two further wards being utilised to care for Covid positive patients." There were 39 patients with the virus being treated in the hospital on Monday.
"As a result of the ongoing pressures and lack of bed capacity, a number of elective procedures are being postponed. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed. Time sensitive and urgent cases will not be impacted when it is safe to do them. The situation is being kept under constant review.
"Patients are currently experiencing long waiting times to be admitted from the emergency department to a bed on a ward. The hospital acknowledges that these delays are very difficult for patients and their families and apologises for the inconvenience and distress these delays cause."
Due to the high volume of patients attending the ED, the hospital is asking the public to contact their GP during normal surgery hours or the Westdoc GP out-of-hours service, in the first instance, if their health problem is not urgent.
The injury unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm daily to treat a range of injuries in both adults and children over five years.
"The hospital is committed to treating everyone who presents at the ED; people who are seriously injured or ill are assessed and treated as a priority and those who do not require urgent care may be waiting longer.
"As part of the hospital's Covid-19 measures, we ask that patients wait in the ED alone to help maintain social distancing. A companion will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. This is to minimise the risk of infection and to keep everyone safe. We remind patients to please wear a face covering/mask when in the ED and to comply with any Covid-19 screening processes."