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October trolley watch stats show 'almost' double numbers this year than same period in 2020

INMO figures show that there are five times as many children on trolleys compared to October 2020.

Image: Shutterstock/beerkoff

THE NUMBERS OF patients on trolleys has almost doubled this October when compared to the same time period in 2020, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has claimed.

The INMO runs a monthly Trolleywatch and covers every hospital in the country. 

The group said today that they have seen more patients on trolleys this October in all of three of the children’s hospitals than any other October.

Their figures show that there five times as many children on trolleys compared to October 2020. 

Nineteen hospitals have seen their trolley figures double compared to October 2020. We have also seen record overcrowding for the month of October in Letterkenny University Hospital, University Hospital Kerry, Mayo University Hospital and Mercy University Hospital, the research found. 

Action needed

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that action needs to be urgently taken to deal with the burgeoning crisis. 

“These figures come in the backdrop of rapidly increasing COVID cases, increased hospitalisations and an increased number of nurses and midwives becoming infected with COVID-19.

“We urgently need to see action on ensuring that patient-facing healthcare workers have every protection possible to keep them safe as infection numbers are reaching the high numbers we saw earlier this year. We must see a recommendation from NIAC tomorrow on extending the vaccine booster to healthcare workers,” she said.

Ní Sheaghdha said there is particular concern in St Vincent’s University Hospital, University Hospital Tipperary, University Hospital Galway and Ennis Hospital which has seen their trolley numbers increase ten-fold compared to last year.  

“Overall, we have seen 54,456 people on trolleys so far this year compared to 45,038 people on trolleys in the same time period in 2020. This rapid rise in trolley numbers is of grave concern to the INMO,” she added. 

The hospitals with the highest numbers for the month were  University Hospital Limerick on 1,369, University Hospital Letterkenny with 943, University Hospital Galway on 829 and University Hospital Cork on 688. 

Crisis

Ní Sheaghdha said that such overcrowding in hospitals would not be tolerated during the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis. 

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“At the start of the pandemic, the HSE said there would be zero tolerance of overcrowding. Our hospitals are no longer just full, they are overcrowded and we have not seen any detailed plan from the HSE in terms of winter planning.

“Winter is no longer a time coming down the tracks, it is already here. We are calling on the HSE and Minister Donnelly to outline in detail this week what exactly they are planning for the months ahead and what capacity will be made available from the private sector. 

“If the HSE is planning to cancel electives then this decision needs to be taken now, not when the crisis is unmanageable,” she added. 

Ní Sheaghdha said there needs to be funding made available to implement the Safe-Staffing Framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse-to-patient ratio.

“Just like we have a pupil-teacher ratio that advises on the optimum number of children in a classroom to one teacher. We are hearing examples in our hospitals of one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward. This is not a safe environment for the nurse or patients. 

“We know that is going to be a difficult period ahead for patient-facing staff. We cannot allow a situation where we have a repeat of trolley numbers that we saw in 2019.

“Trolley numbers cannot be allowed to continue to rise when we are still trying to contend with COVID-19 and all the implications it has on nurses and midwives. The HSE must take immediate action,” she added. 

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