TALLAGHT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL has advised people with “non-urgent” needs to avoid its emergency department.

In a statement issued this morning, the hospital said that its ED is “extremely busy” and is currently experiencing “high levels of attendance”.

As a result, the hospital has appealed for patients with non-urgent conditions are being asked to seek assistance from other parts of the health service.

“At the moment, the emergency department is under significant pressure with many patients requiring admission due to a combination of factors,” read the statement.

“Where possible, the hospital are asking patients with non-emergency conditions to seek assistance from other parts of the health service such as their local Pharmacist, GP, GP out of hours service, or a local injury unit.”

Patients presenting at the ED with non-urgent conditions are being warned of “very long waiting times to be seen”.

However, TUH added that “any patient who needs emergency hospital care will be seen” and urged “such patients not to delay attending the ED”.

Tallaght University Hospital apologised for any inconvenience caused.

According to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, 50 people admitted to TUH’s Emergency Department this morning were waiting for a hospital bed.

In a statement to The Journal, an INMO spokesperson described this figure as “extraordinarily high”.

They added: “This level of overcrowding has made the emergency department an unsafe environment. It is vital to ensure that action is taken to protect both our members and their patients.

“The environment they find themselves in is making it impossible to provide safe care. The volume of trolleys in the emergency department is leading to concerns around timely care.”

Nationwide, today’s TrolleyWatch figures from the INMO show that 487 admitted patients were waiting for beds at hospitals this morning, 400 of whom are waiting in emergency departments, while 87 are in wards elsewhere in the hospitals.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) told The Journal: ‘The Iaem has repeatedly made it clear that the practice of recommending that patients seek care at ‘alternative locations’ other than Emergency Departments is naive, at best and counterproductive, at worst.”

“This advice is clearly ill-considered as many patients do not have a GP or can’t obtain a timely appointment; pharmacists are very limited in their scope to assist and the option of Injury Units is often clinically inappropriate or unavailable in the locality.”

The IAEM spokesperson added: “What typically happens following such poor advice is that elderly patients that have time critical illnesses such as stroke, heart attack or bowel obstruction delay their attendance at an ED, often with catastrophic results. Those with more minor problems generally ignore the dubious ‘advice’.”

The IAEM called on the HSE to “address the underlying causes of ED crowding”, which it says it “mainly insufficient acute bed capacity”, rather than “reflexly issuing the same inappropriate and discredited advice”.

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