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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019
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'Detrimental and harmful': There were over 80,000 people on hospital trolleys so far this year

The INMO said the overcrowding situation is having a “serious, detrimental and harmful effect” on patients.

Image: Rolling News

AS THE WINTER months move closer, the number of people on trolleys in emergency departments is at the highest rate on record for the first 10 months of the year, according to the latest trolley watch figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

In total, 82,459 people admitted for care were on trolleys in A&E departments or wards from January to June of this year.

This is 8% higher than the 2016 figure, and a 96% increase on the first 10 months of 2007.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said that the figures “confirm the obvious reality that our public health service is critically short of acute hospital beds, which is having a serious, detrimental and harmful effect upon patient care”.

In October, there were 8,903 patients on trolleys, which is an increase of 15% on the month in 2016.

The figures also found that, in October, the levels of overcrowding in Dublin hospitals had increased, when compared to October 2016. This follows months when levels of overcrowding had reduced in Dublin.

The situation is continuing to significantly deteriorate in hospitals outside of Dublin, with record levels both last month and in the 10 months of 2017 to date.

The most overcrowded hospitals in October were:

  • University Hospital Limerick – 719 people on trolleys
  • University Hospital Galway – 679 people on trolleys
  • Cork University Hospital – 635 people on trolleys
  • South Tipperary General Hospital – 546 people on trolleys
  • St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny – 495 people on trolleys

The figures also showed huge increases in other hospitals including Wexford General Hospital, which rose from 55 in October 2016 to 241 in October this year, and Letterkenny University Hospital, up from 121 last October to 459 this October.

The INMO is set to meet with the Heath and Safety Authority on 30 November, where it will be calling for it to issue directions to ensure nursing and other frontline staff have a safe working environment.

Winter months

Speaking about the overcrowding situation heading into the depth of the winter months, Doran said that it is important that all hospitals are “empowered and supported” to allow for a number of vital changes.

Doran said that all available beds in hospitals must be opened during the winter months.

He also wants the introduction of “incentivised packages to recruit and retain the required numbers of additional nursing staff to allow for the opening of these beds and ensure safe staffing”.

“[I want to] ensure all available transitional and long-term care beds, home care packages and home help hours, as required, without a waiting list, are available to all community nurses and management,” he said.

In order to address this crisis, there cannot be any restriction on the funds available to increase the capacity of the health service as we enter the winter period.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the latest figures are shocking and that while these increases are happening month on month, they can never be normalised.

“It is hugely concerning that to date in 2017 there have been 82,459 people who were left on trolleys throughout the state. Such numbers are a serious cause for concern, especially as we move into the flu season when the health service is put under enormous pressure,” O’Reilly said.

In her statement, O’Reilly echoed the words of Doran in relation to the changes she wants to see.

If Minister for Health Simon Harris is serious about addressing the issues which create this crisis then he needs to tackle for main area, recruitment and retention of staff, reopening closed beds, adequate step down facilities, and proper primary and community care.

“This will not only reduce the numbers of patients on trolleys in our hospitals, but it will also ensure that those who are in our hospitals will get the care they need,” O’Reilly said.

Read: Pensioner awarded €25,000 after being kicked and pushed at Beaumont Hospital

More: Patients ‘have a right to ask doctors and nurses if they have received the flu vaccine’

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