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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 20 January 2022

It's the worst ever day for trolley overcrowding in Irish hospitals since records began, INMO says

There were 92 patients waiting for a bed at University Hospital Limerick, alone.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Hadrian

THERE WERE 760 patients without beds in Irish hospitals this morning, which is the worst figure since the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) first start compiling the statistics well over a decade ago.

The number of patients waiting on trolleys this morning would be enough to fill the largest hospital in the State – St James’s Hospital – which has a capacity of 707 beds.

It is also twice the equivalent of Letterkenny University Hospital (333 beds).

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that “Ireland’s beleaguered health service continues to break records in the worst possible way” and that the “excuse that this is all down to the flu simply doesn’t hold”. 

The previous worst-ever day for people on trolleys was 12 March 2018, right after the “Beast from the East” weather event had hit Ireland. On that day, 714 patients went without beds. 

University Hospital Limerick is the worst affected, with 92 patients waiting on trolleys. This is also a record for a single hospital. The INMO first began compiling the statistics in their present form 14 years ago. 

Other badly affected hospitals include Cork University Hospital (56 patients), University Hospital Galway (47 patients) and South Tipperary General Hospital (40 patients). 

The INMO said that a major incident protocol should be adopted across the country, as was done in March 2018.

This would potentially see non-emergency admissions stopped, electives cancelled and extra bed capacity sourced from the private and public sectors.

The union is also calling for an infection control plan, as the risk of this increases with overcrowding.

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Ní Sheaghdha said: “There are always extra patients in winter, but we simply do not get the extra capacity to cope. This is entirely predictable, yet we seemingly fail to deal with it every year.

We also need to immediately scrap the HSE’s counterproductive recruitment pause, which is leaving these services understaffed and thus overcrowded.

She added that it was a “simply shameful situation” that is entirely preventable. 

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Sean Murray

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