Over 9,000 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide last month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
According to its latest Trolley Watch figures, a total of 9,015 admitted patients were left waiting on trolleys during the month of May, including 78 children.
While the figure represents a small drop when compared with May 2018, when 9,183 people were on trolleys, it marks a 114% increase when compared to the same period in 2006, which the is year when the INMO began collecting these figures.
In May of that year, 4,214 people were left waiting on trolleys.
The worst affected hospitals last month were University Hospital Limerick (1,102 on trolleys), Cork University Hospital (824) and South Tipperary General Hospital (661).
The worst affected hospital in Dublin was Tallaght University Hospital (475), while the worst affected children's hospital was Temple Street Children's University Hospital (36).
Commenting on the figures, INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, pointed out that overcrowding is worsening despite the fact that we are ‘entering the milder summer months, when predictable seasonal illnesses are lower'.
"Overcrowding in May 2019 is now at the same level as January five years ago. Clearly this is a capacity deficit and requires immediate investment in additional hospital beds.
"Considering the evidence of this continued increasing activity in our public health service, it is simply unacceptable that the HSE and Department of Health have introduced a recruitment pause. We know that this will simply lead to a chronic understaffing and overcrowding problem without any regard to person-centred solutions," Ms Ní Sheaghdha insisted.
She emphasised that overcrowding and understaffing only lead to longer recovery times.
"That means worse care, higher costs, and a greater risk of infection. Investment in beds and safe staffing is key to resolving this ongoing crisis," Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.
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