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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 19 September, 2018
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There were a record 9,091 patients waiting on trolleys in Ireland's hospitals last month

The 9,091 figure represents a 12% jump from May 2017, and a massive 116% jump from the situation in 2006.

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THE NUMBER OF patients on trolleys in Irish hospitals last month was at its highest ever level for the month of May.

9,091 admitted patients spent time waiting on a bed over the course of the first summer month, figures released by industry union the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation (INMO) reveal.

University Hospital Limerick, with 858, and Cork University Hospital (826) were the two hospitals with the highest recorded figures for May.

There were also 92 children on trolleys in the three Dublin children’s hospitals.

Overall, there were 12% more people on trolleys in May 2018 than there were 12 months previously. More alarmingly, there was a 116% increase on the same figure for May 2006, when there were just 4,214 people waiting on a bed in Irish hospitals.

The organisation states that the figures show that Irish hospitals “are constantly overcrowded, working above the recognised safe occupancy level”.

‘Not acceptable’

The INMO is “seeking a total re-look at the national planning process and particularly the Winter Initiative” according to general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha.

“We live in a society which expects a long wait, and a lack of privacy and dignity when attending emergency departments,” she said. “It is not acceptable. It is a basic human right that a person deemed as requiring hospital admission is admitted to a suitable bed which is appropriately staffed.

Complacency must be replaced with proactive planning, aimed at correcting, not simply reducing, the numbers to make it look somewhat better.

“The government is and will continue to provide increased resources to address the situation in the face of rising demand,” a spokesman for the Department of Health said, adding that the HSE’s own internal statistics suggest that for the first four months of the year there was a decrease in trolley numbers of 16.9%, or 301 less patients on trolleys as compared to the same period in 2017.

TheJournal.ie contacted the HSE for comment – a reply had not been received at the time of publication.

In March, Health Minister Simon Harris cancelled his scheduled St Patrick’s Day trip to Belgium and the Netherlands due to the difficulties facing the health service, after facing prolonged criticism from the opposition benches regarding the government’s response to the crisis.

Speaking in January, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he doesn’t want any patient in Ireland to “face the indignity and the risk to their health that comes with prolonged trolley waits”.

The Taoiseach said at the time the case for extra beds in our hospitals is “indisputable”.

You can view the INMO statistics detailed above here

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