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hospital trolley image via Shutterstock
Trolley Watch

Just 42 people on trolleys but 'one snowflake doesn't make a white Christmas'

The numbers are down significantly on last year when 107 people spent Christmas on trolleys in hospitals around the country.

THIS YEAR, 42 people are spending Christmas in hospital on a trolley, figures from the INMO reveal today.

This is a huge fall on last year’s number of 107 but while the nursing union’s Deputy General Secretary Dave Hughes heralded it as positive news, he warned that the healthcare service must not become complacent.

“One snowflake doesn’t make a white Christmas,” he told “I have to say, this is good news though – we’ve been doing this trolley watch figures for 12 years now and it has been like banging our heads off a stone wall for many of these years. Since this government came in, they seem to realise that the figures don’t lie.”

Hughes said the reduced trolley watch numbers, which are collected by the INMO each day, can be attributed to a number of factors, with the milder winder weather this year among them. “It has reduced some of the emergency demands – older people are better able to cope this winter,” he said.

Going in the right direction

The lower staff numbers in hospitals, which mean postponement or treatment at home, have also contributed to this, he said.

“It’s better managed this year as well with a greater concentration on reducing numbers,” he said. “We are going in the right direction but it’s not a trend yet so we’re basically saying that we’re making progress but no one should be taking their eye off the ball.”

As for those still on trolleys today in hospitals around the country, Hughes said it is likely that most of them are patients over 65, suffering from chronic illnesses, who cannot be released for the festive period.

There are four hospitals with no patients on trolleys today and Our Lady of Lourdes in Navan has the highest number, at nine in total.

Read: 618 kept in hospital over Christmas – despite being cleared by docs>

Read: Emergency medics lash out as trolley numbers hit eight-month high>

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