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Demonstrations outside Leinster House in 2006, when the number on hospital trolleys reached 495. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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

The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine criticises the failure to end waits on trolleys, as 385 wait for admission.

AN ASSOCIATION representing medical staff working in the country’s emergency wards has criticised the government’s failure to meet previous commitments that no in-patient would have to wait on a trolley for hospital admission.

The criticism comes as new figures published this morning showed that 385 people were on trolleys in hospital corridors awaiting hospital admission – the highest level in eight months.

The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine said James Reilly had promised to end the “scandal” of having patients forced to wait on trolleys for hospital admission by the end of 2012, but that this commitment has not been met.

“In spite of the clear commitment given to adopt a zero tolerance policy to ED overcrowding,” the body said in a statement this afternoon, “little of substance has actually happened.”

The numbers on trolleys today include 38 in Beaumont Hospital alone, with a further 29 in the Mater, 24 in St Vincent’s Hospital, and 20 in James Connolly hospital in Blanchardstown. In all, 115 people are on trolleys in the HSE Eastern region.

A further 28 are on trolleys in Cork University Hospital, 27 in Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, and 23 at Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar.

The IAEM said those people could “be forgiven for asking whether this major public health issue is being taken seriously by those responsible for managing our Health Service”.

“The clear evidence over the last decade is that it isn’t,” it said.

The body cited comments by a HSE spokesperson last month, who said the increased in numbers on trolleys was ‘not a cause for concern’, as an illustration that the government had abandoned its zero tolerance approach to hospital overcrowding.

Last July, the chairman of the Oireachtas health committee James Buttimer claimed Reilly was “winning the war on trolley numbers” when the number on trolleys had fallen to below 250, its lowest levels of the year at that point.

Read: Minister for Health “winning the war on trolley numbers”

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