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hospital trolley image via Shutterstock

'Winter is coming' and nurses say Irish hospitals are not prepared

Figures show there was a 19% increase in the number of patients on trolleys compared to last year.

FIGURES FROM LAST month show there was a 19% increase in the number of patients on trolleys in Irish hospitals compared to last year.

An analysis of figures by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) found there was an “increasingly negative trend” throughout the summer months, with July also up on the same month in 2013.

The organisation said this overcrowding and “loss of dignity to patients” represents a dire warning for the health system and the government as we move into the busy autumn/winter period.

In total, there were 4,648 patients on trolleys with the largest number, 490, in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, followed by University Hospital Limerick with 458.

Liam Doran, General Secretary of the INMO described the figures as “truly shocking”.

“We cannot talk about an economic recovery, benefitting everyone, while we are facing such unacceptable pressures in our health service,” he said.

There is no choice but to open closed beds, immediately, and address the staffing crisis. The winter is coming and we must prepare accordingly. Therefore, the patient comes first and budgets must respond to need not bureaucrats.

The INMO said the government must provide additional funding for the health service, not only to leave all existing beds opened but to bring back into service hundreds of closed beds.

Last month, when the organisation revealed there had been a 187% rise in trolley numbers compared to last year, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the HSE was releasing €5 million for home care packages and long-term care in order to speed up the discharge of patients.

A spokesperson for the minister told that Varadkar expressed concerns about the current trolley situation in his address to Fine Gael Oireachtas members in Fota this week.

“He said he looks at the trolley figures three times a day,” they said. “The figures are much worse than this time last year because demand has soared, and he’s concerned that it will get worse this winter, especially if there is an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug or similar.”

Varadkar met with INMO members last week to discuss issues and another meeting is planned closer to Christmas.

Read: Number of patients admitted on trolleys up 187% in some hospitals>

Read: Elderly people ‘left languishing’ on nursing home waiting list>

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