Almost 99,000 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide during 2017, new figures have shown.
According to the latest ‘Trolley and Ward Watch' figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), a total of 98, 981 patients were left waiting on trolleys last year, with the highest figure recorded in University Hospital Limerick (8,869).
This was followed by Cork University Hospital (6,815) and University Hospital Galway (6,563).
The highest trolley figures in Dublin were recorded at the Mater Hospital (5,238).
Some smaller hospitals recorded huge jumps in their trolley figures in 2017, including Our Lady's Hospital in Navan, which went from 595 patients on trolleys in 2016 to 2,435 patients on trolleys last year.
The overall figure of 98,981 marks a 6% increase on 2016's figures of 93,621 and a massive 96% increase on 2007's figure of 50,402.
According to INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, overcrowding in hospitals is getting worse ‘despite investment in winter plans'.
"Smaller hospitals are now severely overcrowded, which is manifestly unsafe and leads to higher cross infection and poorer outcomes for patients. Nursing staff, who are constantly working in this high pressure, unsafe environment, cannot be expected to put up with this obvious neglect of duty of care to them and the patients they try to care for any longer," she commented.
The INMO insisted that there is unlikely to be any improvement in trolley waiting figures in 2018 ‘unless drastic and innovative steps are taken immediately'.