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Trolley numbers for this year are the highest since records began, INMO says

The INMO said today that over 108,300 people have gone without beds so far this year.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: PA Images

THIS YEAR HAS seen the highest number of patients on trolleys in any year since records began, according to a leading nursing union.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said today that 108,364 people have gone without beds in 2019 so far – breaking 2018’s record high of 108,227, with a full month left to go in the year.

The union has written to the Health and Safety Authority and the Health Information and Quality Authority, seeking their intervention as it warns services have reached breaking point, invoking health and safety laws for staff.

The trolley figures count patients who are admitted to hospital but do not have a bed.

They are typically left on trolleys lined up in corridors or on chairs.

The INMO, which staged a historic strike this year in a row over pay and conditions, is calling for extra staffing and an increase in hospital, home care, and community capacity to deal with the problem.

The union said that in 2019 so far, the worst-affected hospitals are:

  • University Hospital Limerick: 12,810
  • Cork University Hospital: 10,136
  • University Hospital Galway: 7,409
  • South Tipperary General Hospital: 6,383
  • University Hospital Waterford: 5,875
  • Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin: 5,572

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said that as winter has only just begun and the record has already been broken, she forecasts serious issues looking into December.

She said: “These statistics are the hallmark of a wildly bureaucratic health service which is failing staff and patients alike.

“We take no pleasure in having to record these figures for a decade-and-a-half.

“We know the problem, but we also know the solutions: extra beds in hospitals, safe staffing levels, and more step-down and community care outside of the hospital.

“Five years ago, hospitals like Beaumont consistently faced the most extreme overcrowding problems in the country.

“They reduced that problem by adding beds and growing community care. Other services can do the same and must be allowed to do so.

“No other developed country faces anything close to this trolley problem. It can be solved, but a strong political agenda to drive change is needed

“The INMO has written to the health and safety authorities this week to try and force a change from the employers.

“Hospitals should be a place of safety and care – not danger.”

Trolley numbers this month were the highest of any November on record, the union said, and the fifth consecutive month to exceed records for previous years.

There were 522 people on trolleys across Ireland on Friday.

Trolley numbers and overcrowding issues in hospitals have been a headache for the Government for some time, with many calling for a complete overhaul of how the Department of Health tackles the issue.

One of the Government’s own TDs, Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell, admitted in a recent committee that she was “embarrassed” at the “shocking” conditions of the emergency department at Crumlin Children’s Hospital as she waited for her child to be treated last Sunday.

“I was actually embarrassed as a TD to be there and I was afraid someone would recognise me, trying to keep undercover,” she said.

The Health Service Executive has been contacted for comment.

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