Number of patients on trolleys set to rise with 'surge' in flu cases expected

The number of people waiting on trolleys in hospitals is down by 51pc, but Health Minister Simon Harris has warned there will be a “surge” in patients with flu in the coming weeks.

Milder temperatures at the beginning of winter saw a fall in the number of patients presenting with flu.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Harris yesterday attended a briefing with senior HSE officials on the winter plan, where they warned the first two weeks of January will see an increase in cases of the flu.

Mr Varadkar urged people to use emergency departments only for emergencies in the coming weeks, while Mr Harris warned “there is a surge ahead”.

They urged people to take precautions including getting the flu jab, especially pregnant women.

At 8am yesterday hospitals recorded 111 patients waiting to be admitted from emergency departments, less than half the number from the same day last year.

The HSE’s Anne O’Connor said that flu levels are expected to rise in the coming weeks.

“Flu levels still remain low, we do expect them to rise in January, but they remain low,” she said.

The Taoiseach cautioned there were challenging times ahead, saying: “The weeks ahead are among the busiest for the health service.

“So if you are sick, please don’t visit elderly relatives, don’t visit other people who are sick, because that could cause you to pass on the illness that you have.

“For anyone who hasn’t had to flu vaccine yet, it’s still possible to have it and among the groups that are most at risk are pregnant women, who can get very sick,” he said.

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