Over 9,700 people were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide last month, including more than 100 children, new figures have shown.
According to the latest ‘Trolley Watch' figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), 9,714 patients were left waiting on trolleys during March, a 14% increase on February's figures.
The worst affected hospital was University Hospital Limerick, which recorded 1,054 patients on trolleys during the month. This was followed by Cork University Hospital (870) and University Hospital Galway (722). The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater Hospital (443).
Meanwhile the three children's hospitals all recorded children being left on trolleys. The worst affected was Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin (55), followed by Temple Street Children's University Hospital (47).
The INMO pointed out that Tuesday, March 26, saw the highest daily number of patients left waiting on trolleys so far this year (617). It also noted that some smaller hospitals had major problems. For example, Sligo University Hospital recorded 483 patients on trolleys last month, a 35% increase when compared to March 2018.
"Overcrowding remains endemic in Ireland's hospitals. Other countries are investing in their nurses and midwives and we need to do the same to recruit and retain more staff," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
She criticised a recent decision by management at University Hospital Limerick to close beds and an entire ward at a time when the hospital is ‘the most overcrowded in Ireland'.
"If our health service doesn't see staffing and capacity increases, conditions will only worsen for patients and staff alike," Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.
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