Worst October on record for trolley figures

Health service does not have capacity to cope
  • Deborah Condon

Over 9,000 patients were left waiting on trolleys and chairs in Irish hospitals nationwide last month, with one hospital exceeding the 1,000 mark, figures have shown.

According to the latest Trolley Watch figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), 9,055 admitted patients were left waiting on trolleys and chairs last month, making it the worst October on record since the INMO started recording these figures in 2006.

In October 2006, just over 4,000 patients were on trolleys, so last month's figure represents a 124% increase since then.

The worst affected hospital last month was University Hospital Limerick, where 1,045 patients were on trolleys. A further five hospitals had in excess of 500 patients on trolleys. They were:
-University Hospital Galway - 716
-Cork University Hospital - 647
-Letterkenny University Hospital - 572
-Mater University Hospital - 519
-University Hospital Waterford - 512

The INMO also expressed concern about overcrowding in smaller hospitals. For example, 474 patients were left waiting in South Tipperary General Hospital - that is almost three times the hospital's total bed capacity.

"Over 9,000 patients forced to wait on trolleys and it's not even peak winter season. Figures like these do not adequately express the hardship endured by patients who find themselves in these circumstances. The negative health impacts of this overcrowding are known, yet this is not addressed as a national priority," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.

She said that currently, the health service simply does not have the capacity to cope. However, while the Government accepts that more beds are needed, ‘opening extra beds requires extra nurses, but low pay means there is no immediate prospect of recruiting additional nurses or retaining current ones'.


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