Over 10,000 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals around the country last month, new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have shown.
According to the INMO's latest ‘Trolley Watch' figures, a total of 10,641 patients went without a bed in September. This is the highest monthly trolley figure recorded so far in 2019.
The worst affected hospital last month was University Hospital Limerick, with 1,405 patients left waiting on trolleys. It was followed by Cork University Hospital (936) and University Hospital Galway (884).
The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater Hospital (639).
The figures included a total of 101 children who were also left waiting on trolleys. Temple Street Children's University Hospital was the worst affected children's hospital, with 59 children on trolleys.
The figures also show that trolley figures have increased by 36% when compared to the same period last year, and a massive 102% when compared to the same period 10 years ago. In September 2009, there were 5,264 patients left waiting on trolleys.
INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, described the figures as "astonishing", especially as they have come outside of the traditionally busy winter period.
"It's placing a massive strain on our members on the frontline and is seriously worsening patient care. We have now seen 80 consecutive days where the trolley figures are higher than 2018, often by as much as 50%. This is equivalent to the bed capacity of Beaumont Hospital 15 times over.
"This is beyond unsustainable. At the root of the problem is capacity. We need more hospital beds and more nurses and midwives to staff them. The HSE's disastrous recruitment pause simply has to go," she insisted.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that the health service needs urgent reform and Sláintecare - the Government's long-term plan to reform the health service - is the way forward.
However, she added that there "needs to be more than reports and press conferences".
"It needs real investment and a shift towards primary care".
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