Over 57,600 patients were left waiting on hospital trolleys in the first seven months of this year, figures have shown.
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Oragnisation's (INMO) trolley watch figures, the number of patients left waiting on trolleys in July of this year (6,353) was 6% lower than the same period in 2016 (6,739).
However, the overall number of patients left waiting on trolleys between January and July 2017 is the highest number ever recorded for this period. Some 57,674 people were left on trolleys during these seven months, which is 5% higher than the figure for the same period in 2016 (55,008), and 85% higher than the same period in 2007 (31,117).
The hospitals with the highest number of patients on trolleys in the first seven months of this year included University Hospital Limerick (4,782), Cork University Hospital (3,949), University Hospital Galway (3,688) and the Mater Hospital in Dublin (3,319).
Meanwhile, the hospitals with the highest number of patients on trolleys last month included University Hospital Limerick (662), the Mater (455), Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar (439) and South Tipperary General Hospital (388).
The figures were described as ‘alarming', given that the health service will soon be entering the autumn/winter period, which is generally acknowledged as being busier than summer.
"These figures are further confirmation that our health service continues to be too small and, regardless of the initiatives that have been taken, demand continues to outstrip the capacity of the service to provide timely, appropriate and dignified care," commented INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.
He called for ‘immediate action' by the Government, Department of Health and HSE, and said that if the health service is to be able to cope, ‘additional bed capacity and community nursing services must be introduced'.
"This will only be done when we solve the recruitment/retention crisis facing nursing and midwifery in Ireland. If we do not have additional nurses and midwives, then we cannot expand our capacity and overcrowding levels will continue to grow," he said.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.