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File image of patients waiting on trolleys. Alamy Stock Photo

'One person on a trolley is too much' says HSE CEO as 638 patients currently waiting for a bed

Bernard Gloster has promised that the HSE’s focus for 2024 is to reduce the number of people on trolleys.

A TOTAL OF 638 patients lay on trolleys in Irish hospitals awaiting beds while HSE CEO Bernard Gloster told an Oireachtas Committee today that having one patient on a trolley was too much.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said the high number, tallied in its Trolley Watch service, represents that overcrowding in hospitals is “completely out of control”.

Gloster has promised that the HSE’s focus for the year ahead is to reduce the number of people who wait for beds on trolleys across the healthcare system.

A spokesperson for the HSE has claimed that 478 people were on trolleys, as of 8am this morning, not 638 as was claimed by the INMO.

It is understood that the HSE classifies what ‘trolleys’ are differently to the union, which can often lead to large disparages in the number of people who are awaiting beds at acute hospitals. Both parties agree that no patient should wait on trolleys.

The INMO’s General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha yesterday requested that the HSE publish their discharge rates.

In a statement to The Journal today, a spokesperson for the HSE said that 407 people were delayed in hospital today while awaiting discharge.

“This is unacceptable to us,” they added.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint-Committee on Health in Dublin today, HSE CEO Bernard Gloster said the HSE will focus on reducing the number of people waiting on trolleys throughout this year.

Gloster said the HSE’s National Service Plan for 2024 aims to improve services, waiting times and quality of care. The CEO added that “as long as there’s one person on a trolley, that’s too much”.

“I am conscious that many people remain challenged in their confidence in us as an organisation. This is in part because there at times we simply come up short for them. While the evidence shows a lot of improvement, there is a significant wait to go.”

The HSE has said that all patients who present to emergency departments will be seen and treated but has stressed that the most urgent patients will be prioritised and  requested the public to only attend A&E when it’s absolutely necessary.

“Our staff work hard to do all they can to reduce the length of time patients wait in EDs and we apologise when patients experience long delays,” the spokesperson said.

“It is important that people continue to consider all options and pathways available to them before attending an ED, including Injury Units, GP Out of Hours, GPs and community pharmacy.”

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