High number of children at Dublin EDs in recent weeks

Record numbers of children have been presenting to emergency departments across Dublin in the last few weeks, according to Children’s Health Ireland.

Paediatric Consultant Dr Carol Blackburn at CHI Crumlin says it is the busiest they have ever been.

She said that on their busiest day in 2019, they saw about 520 children across all their Dublin hospitals.

However, on Monday they saw 620 children across their sites.

She said they are seeing children presenting in very high numbers with fevers and respiratory illnesses – which are seasonally appropriate and expected.

However she said that at the moment, they are seeing a spike among babies and young children.

According to CHI figures for September, Temple St, Crumlin, Tallaght and Connolly are up about 24% on 2019 level.

Dr Blackburn said that at CHI Crumlin, they are already up 40% so far this month on the same period in October 2019.

She said children who are more acutely injured or unwell are being prioritised, but in some cases, children are having to wait up to seven, eight or nine hours to be seen.

Some children have had to be put on trollies overnight while they are waiting to get beds.

Dr Blackburn said multiple viruses are circulating in the community at the moment, including RSV, enterovirus and the winter vomiting bug, and they are seeing winter levels of patients already.

She said that while Covid-19 is not causing a huge burden of disease, every fever and respiratory illness has to be treated as possible Covid, which is placing extra pressure on the system.

The advice for parents who are unsure is to contact their GP or the HSE’s ‘under the weather’ website for advice before attending an emergency department.

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