The number of patients waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide has hit its highest level so far this year, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
Some 679 patients were on trolleys and chairs on Tuesday morning due to a shortage of hospital beds - the highest daily figure for 2019 so far and the second highest daily figure ever recorded.
The worst affected hospitals on the morning of November 5 were University Hospital Limerick (63), University Hospital Cork (60) and Letterkenny General Hospital (47).
The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater hospital (36), while a total of nine children were on trolleys in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin and Temple Street Children's University Hospital.
The INMO also highlighted that South Tipperary General Hospital is "in crisis". Despite being one of the country's smaller hospitals, 40 patients were on trolleys on Tuesday morning, which is more than some of the largest hospitals in the country.
It blamed the current overcrowding crisis on a lack of capacity and a lack of staff in the public health service. It said that a ‘go slow' recruitment freeze has left over 1,000 frontline posts unfilled.
The figures were described as "simply obscene" by INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha. She pointed out that the traditionally busier time of winter has not even started and already Irish hospitals "are overwhelmed".
"Our members are faced with an inhumane working environment, while patients are put at ever-increasing risk. It's time for extra emergency staffing, an end to the recruitment ban, and for hospitals to curtail services until safe patient and staff levels are reached," she said.
The highest daily trolley figure ever recorded by the INMO was on March 12, 2018, when 714 patients were left waiting on trolleys and chairs.
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