Ambulance services have been instructed not to bring patients to the A&E department at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar, after the hospital was taken off-call yesterday due to overcrowding.
Staff at the hospital learnt of the development yesterday (Thursday ) afternoon, after senior clinicians expressed concern to the HSE over patient safety. Some 23 people were on trolleys in the A&E department yesterday morning, a situation which staff say is unprecedented.
While the Health Services Executive says the A&E department remains open to the general public for those who wish to arrive themselves, the ambulance service has been instructed to bring patients to other hospitals in the area.
“We are currently experiencing a significantly busy period in the A&E department at Mullingar hospital. The ambulance service have been asked to direct people to the nearest available A & E department,” a spokesperson for the HSE confirmed yesterday evening.
Depending on their location, the move means patients requiring an ambulance will be brought to the A&E department of either Tullamore or Portlaoise hospital.
It is understood that senior clinicians at the Mullingar hospital have expressed concern about the overcrowding situation at the hospital for some time. In recent months, 41 emergency beds at the hospital have been taken out of the system, while 35 staff members who have left have not been replaced.
INO industrial relations officer, Lorraine Monaghan, said that the level of overcrowding at Mullingar’s A&E department is “unsafe and unmanageable”.
“This situation will inevitably worsen as we enter into the depths of winter unless management take immediate action and reopen the recently closed beds in the hospital,” she said.