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Number of patients on hospital trolleys hits highest level since pandemic began

Today’s trolley figures have returned to similar pre-pandemic figures hit in 2019.

THE NUMBER OF people waiting on trolleys in hospitals across Ireland has reached its highest level since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

New figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show there are 534 patients without beds in Irish hospitals.

This figure is 19 higher than the 515 reported in early November.

The figures reported today are lower than trolley numbers recorded pre-pandemic, when trolley figures on this day in 2019 stood at 608

2019 saw the highest number of patients on trolleys in any year since records began. On this day in 2018, 460 people were on trolleys in Irish hospitals. 

The INMO said it’s creating a “nightmare before Christmas scenario” and called for private hospitals to be utilised to ease the pressure on the public health service. 

With 79 patients on trolleys, University Hospital, Limerick (UHL) had the highest total of any hospital in the country.

A total of 50 of the people waiting at the Limerick facility were in the emergency department, and 29 were waiting on other wards.

Letterkenny University Hospital registered the next highest total, with 11 waiting in its ED and 50 elsewhere in the Donegal hospital.

Forty-six patients were waiting in Sligo University Hospital, 28 in ED and 18 on other wards.

Cork University Hospital (CUH) had 36 patients on trolleys this morning and all of them were waiting in the emergency department.

Nationally, just six hospitals recorded no patients waiting on a trolley.

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“Today’s figures are a real nightmare before Christmas scenario. We need to see urgent mitigation measures from individual hospitals and the HSE to tackle the number of people on trolleys,” INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said. 

“The warning signs that trolleys would go over 500 once again have been very obvious. This is a predictable event.  

Ní Sheaghdha said overcrowded hospitals reduce the ability to deliver safe care. She called for the creation of a fully-funded workforce plan, and adequate health and safety measures including enhanced ventilation in hospitals. 

“The public service is under too much pressure to be expected to shoulder the entire burden of the pandemic alongside rising numbers of patients presenting at emergency departments. The HSE must seek full utilisation of private hospitals,” she said.

“Our members are mentally and physically exhausted. They cannot head into yet another pandemic winter with trolley numbers out of control while the pandemic continues.  

“Decisive action and bespoke plans to tackle overcrowding, particularly in hospitals where we see persistent overcrowding is needed.” 

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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