2019 worst year for hospital overcrowding

118,000+ left waiting on trolleys
  • Deborah Condon

Over 118,000 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide in 2019, making it the worst year for overcrowding since records began, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.

According to its ‘Trolley Watch' figures, a total of 118,367 admitted patients were left waiting on trolleys or chairs for a hospital bed last year. This figure is the highest annual figure ever recorded and is 9% higher than 2018's figure.

Over 1,300 of those left waiting in 2019 were children under the age of 16.

The worst affected hospitals last year were University Hospital Limerick (13,941 patients on trolleys), Cork University Hospital (11,066), University Hospital Galway (7,993) and South Tipperary General Hospital (6,942).

The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater Hospital (6,031), while the worst affected children's hospital was Temple Street Children's University Hospital (618).

The worst months for overcrowding were November (12,055) and October (11,452).

Commenting on the figures, INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, insisted that "things are getting worse not better".

"These figures should be falling, but we're going in the wrong direction. Overcrowding used to be a winter problem. Now it's an all-year problem, which gets worse in winter.

"The most frustrating part is that we know how to solve this problem - increase staffing and bed capacity, expand community care, and get going with the Sláintecare reforms," she noted.

She said that instead of this, the HSE "continues to enforce its rigid recruitment controls, starving hospitals and community services of the staff they need".

"Our members are rightly appalled by the conditions they are forced to work and care for patients in. This year should be a year where understaffing and overcrowding are brought under control, but that simply won't happen without investment and an end to the recruitment ban," Ms Ni Sheaghdha added.


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