The ambulance service to Connolly Hospital’s A&E was called off for an hour last week due to overcrowding.
On October 9, the day after junior doctors went on strike over working hours, ambulance cover was sought by the Dublin 15 hospital. This meant that any ambulance asked to bring a patient to Connolly A&E was instead sent to the Mater Hospital. This cover lasted one hour from 10 to 11am.
In a statement to The Gazette, a spokesperson for the HSE said: “Due to the number of patients, awaiting admission and assessment in the emergency department in Connolly Hospital on Wednesday, October 9, ambulance protection was sought and cover given by Mater Hospital for one hour from 10 to 11am.
“During the hour the ambulance service was requested to bring patients they would normally transfer to Connolly ED to the Mater ED instead. The emergency department in Connolly Hospital remained open to patients self presenting.”
The HSE did not comment on whether this situation was a result of the previous day’s strike action by junior doctors.
Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty (Ind) said: “This certainly demonstrates the pressure the hospital is under and certainly [that of] the A&E department. I was alerted about it by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation that this was the case.
“It shows that there is an issue with a need to open beds in the hospital that are closed and, there is a need to look at resources going into A&E so that people are treated quickly and efficiently.
“For the hospital to take that decision, it is an unusual step… as we move closer to Christmas…I think the hospital and the HSE need to put a contingency plan in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
On the question of strike action the previous day, he said that information was not available.