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6,624 people on hospital trolleys last month

The number of people on trolleys rose 106 per cent between August 2007 and 2011.

LAST MONTH saw the highest level of patient overcrowding at Irish hospitals since 2006.

The number of patients waiting on trolleys in August 2011 has risen 106 per cent on August 2007, 64 per cent on 2009 and 35 per cent on last year, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). In total, 6,624 people were on trolleys awaiting a bed last month.

Lian Doran, INMO general secretary, said the latest figures should serve as a message to the government and HSE that cutbacks are having “a serious negative impact upon patient care”:

Regardless of IMF/EU austerity programmes this government must now review its current policy of constantly cutting back on frontline  health services, as a way of saving money, and realise that this is harmful to patient care and simply unsustainable.

Doran criticised the decision to put additional beds on patient wards, while beds and wards remain closed in those hospitals.

The INMO says many of its members are showing “deep concern and frustration” at heading into the autumn/winter period when hospitals face a significant increase in the demand for services. The organisation says it is calling on HIQA, An Bord Altranais and the Medical Council to inspect hospitals and determine that staff can provide “safe care, in a dignified environment, to all patients at all times”.

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