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Beaumont Hospital has one of the worst records for patients on trolleys. Mark Stedman/ Photocall Ireland

2011 worst year for number of patients on trolleys - INMO

Over 86,400 people were left on trolleys as 2,229 public beds remain closed.

THERE WAS A record number of patients kept waiting for hospital beds on trolleys last year, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has revealed.

In its annual trolley watch survey, the INMO found that 86,481 people who had been admitted to hospital were left on trolleys – an increase of 14 per cent on 2010 figures.

The INMO said that last year saw the highest numbers since records began in 2004, when the figure stood at about 55,700.

Patients on trolleys are now a “daily reality in some hospitals that had previously avoided this indignity to patients,” said General Secretary Liam Doran.

There was a dramatic increase in the figures revealed by numerous hospitals around the country. St Luke’s in Kilkenny saw a mammoth 639 per cent rise (up from 140 to 1034), while Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise noted a 352 per cent jump from 426 to 1926.

Doran said the massive leap is a result of increased demand for treatment, bed closures, cutbacks in community services and difficulties with the Fair Deal scheme.

In the greater Dublin area, numbers on trolleys actually fell by about 6 per cent, or 2,188, but outside the capital the level of overcrowding increased significantly with an extra 12,810 people on trolleys.

Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda had the highest number of people kept waiting on trolleys at 7,449, followed by Beaumont Hospital in Dublin with 7,410.

December figures

There was some more positive news as December saw a 13 per cent reduction in the number of patients on trolleys when compared to the same month in 2010.

The nursing organisation’s executive council praised the efforts of the Special Delivery Unit in the Department of Health for the improvements.

The INMO has called on Minister for Health James Reilly to revise the HSE’s National Service Plan to allow the SDU to continue its work by opening closed beds and protect community supports.

A total of 2,229 public beds are currently closed across Irish hospitals, marking a increase of 627 over the past 12 months. The HSE Service Plan outlined that a further 555 non-acute beds will close in 2012.

Read: Call for HIQA to probe ambulance response following Drogheda death>

Health minister says frontline services will be hit by budget cuts>

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