A DONEGAL hospital has apologised after severe overcrowding led to patients being treated in ambulances in the grounds of the hospital.
Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) is under severe pressure due to spikes in Covid-19 in Donegal and the surrounding areas, and over the weekend were unable to admit patients to the emergency room.
Instead, doctors and nurses treated patients inside ambulances which were queuing up outside, in harrowing scenes which echoed those in Northern Ireland last month when cases were at their highest.
Letterkenny University Hospital has now released a statement via the Saolta Group where they have apologised to those affected, acknowledging that "it has been an extremely busy weekend at Letterkenny University Hospital.
"Throughout the weekend there has been a large number of patients presenting with suspect or confirmed COVID 19, many of whom required admission to the hospital."
A spokesperson went on to explain that "as a result of the sustained level of these presentations", the hospital had few beds available and delays were inevitable, particularly for patients waiting to be admitted to the dedicated Covid-19 zone.
"As part of the hospital’s response to this serious situation, clinical teams assessed patients who were delayed being admitted from the ambulance," the hospital stated, adding "This was to ensure that patients were treated in clinical priority."
To help ensure there will not be a repeat of the harrowing scenes over the weekend, LUH has secured additional staff which will open up 11 new beds for patients in need.
The queue of ambulances have begun to be released, a spokesperson confirmed.
"The hospital would like to apologise to patients for the distress that these delays cause and would like to acknowledge the huge effort of its staff," LUH added.
Ireland is currently in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic, with a spike in cases in every county; border counties such as Louth, Monaghan and Donegal are some of the most affected, however.
Not long ago, Ireland was being praised for having the lowest incidence rate in all of Europe; now, it has the worst infection rate, with the virus spreading at a faster rate in Ireland that any other European nation.
Vaccinations have begun for the most vulnerable, and it is expected that Level 5 restrictions will remain in place until a large portion of the population have been vaccinated.