Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has said that the implementation of full capacity protocol 99 times in Tallaght University Hospital is a signal of a hospital in a difficult space.

The shocking figures were released by the Minister of Health in response to a Parliamentary Question.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Full capacity protocol is a hospital’s highest level measure for dealing with emergency department overcrowding. In a properly functioning health service it should be implemented only in exceptional circumstances.

“That it was invoked 99 times in Tallaght Hospital so far this year is unacceptable and a signal of a health service struggling to provide care for patients.

“When full capacity protocol is invoked much of the normal activity of the hospital is suspended, additional patients are moved onto wards and hallways outside of emergency units and oftentimes elective surgeries at the hospital can be cancelled.

“The situation puts huge pressure on patients and their families and it puts huge pressure on staff in our hospitals.

“The public are well aware of the dangers of overcrowding. Dr Fergal Hickey, former president of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine, has stated many times that up to 350 patients are dying each year as a direct result of overcrowding in Irish hospitals.

“Indeed, the overcrowding situation would be much worse only for the fantastic work of the staff in the health system. They are overworked and understaffed and all the while they do excellent work under the most extreme pressures.

“As regards solutions, the only way forward and to combat overcrowding is to invest in and expand primary care, increase the capacity of our hospitals, and hire more staff, none of which this government has prioritised in any meaningful way since its inception.”