This year has the seen the highest number of patients on trolleys since records began back in 2006, and there is still a month to go, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Oragnisation (INMO) has warned.
According to its ‘Trolley Watch' figures, as of Friday, November 29, there had been a total of 108,364 admitted patients left waiting on trolleys and chairs nationwide.
This has beaten last year's total figure of 108,227. However, with a month still to go, 2019's figure is expected to be significantly higher than 2018's total.
By the end of November, the worst affected hospitals were:
-University Hospital Limerick (12,810 patients on trolleys)
-Cork University Hospital (10,136)
-University Hospital Galway (7,409).
The worst affected hospital in Dublin has been the Mater Hospital (5,572).
The INMO is calling for extra staffing and an increase in hospital, community and homecare capacity to deal with this issue. It has also written to the Health and Safety Authority and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) seeking their intervention.
"Winter has only just begun and the record is already broken. These statistics are the hallmark of a wildly bureaucratic health service, which is failing staff and patients alike.
"We take no pleasure in having to record these figures for a decade and a half. We know the problem, but we also know the solutions - extra beds in hospitals, safe staffing levels, and more step-down and community care outside of the hospital," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
She insisted that no other developed country "faces anything close to this trolley problem".
"Five years ago, hospitals like Beaumont consistently faced the most extreme overcrowding problems in the country. They reduced that problem by adding beds and growing community care. Other services can do the same and must be allowed to do so.
"This problem can be solved, but a strong political agenda to drive change is needed. Hospitals should be a place of safety and care, not danger," Ms Ni Sheaghdha added.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.