The hospital overcrowding crisis is putting pressure on ambulances services as paramedics say they have to wait to discharge patients to emergency departments.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, paramedic Michael Dixon said that in some cases thesituation is leading to delays in attending emergency calls - writes rte.ie.
Mr Dixon, who is also chairman of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, said there have been times whenparamedics have waitedup to an hour-and-a-half for patients to be admitted to acute hospitals.
He said the spike in usage, as for example at Cork University Maternity Hospital or University Hospital Limerick, means when there are no available beds in the emergency department "there's a knock on effect and ambulances have to wait to discharge their patients. The knock on effect is on ambulance services then."
Mr Dixon said the real issue in the spike in the need for health services at this time of year.
"We are never prepared for it. We talk about it every year. Realistically for next winter we should start planning now."
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said there were 544 patients on trolleys in emergency departments, or on wards, waiting admission to a bed in hospitals around the country.
The worst affected is University Hospital Limerick with 53 patients waiting, while there are 35 patients waiting at Cork University Hospital.
The Health Service Executive's figures this morning put the number of patients on trolleys at 396, which is down on yesterday.
Galway University Hospital is worst affected with 37 patients waiting.
Unlike the INMO figures, the TrolleyGar figures do not give the number of patients placed on wards, who are waiting for admission for a bad, having already been admitted from an Emergency Department.
To ease overcrowding, more than 80 patients were transferred from public hospitals to private facilities in Dublin and Cork in the past week.
HSE CEO Tony O’Brien apologised to patients waiting on trolleys describing it as unacceptable, but warned that unless planned health reforms go ahead, what is being experienced now will look like a picnic in a few years'time.
Mr Dixon, meanwhile, has called for a liaison officer between the ambulance groups and hospitals and said questions need to be asked such as "are we giving the service to the right hospital?".
He added: "For example if the CUMH in Cork is busy, we have the opportunity to use other hospitals in the area. Some patients can be treated in community hospitals, not everyone needs an A&E."
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