Some 760 admitted patients were waiting on trolleys and chairs in hospitals nationwide today (January 6), making it the worst day for trolley overcrowding since records began, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
According to the organisation's 'Trolley Watch' figures, which are compiled every morning, the number of patients waiting for beds today would more than fill the country's largest hospital - St James's in Dublin, which has 707 beds.
It would also fill Letterkenny General Hospital (333 beds) more than two times over.
Before today, the highest number recorded was 714. This occurred on March 12, 2018, during the bad weather brought about by the ‘Beast from the East'.
The worst affected hospitals today were University Hospital Limerick (92), Cork University Hospital (56) and University Hospital Galway (47).
The INMO is calling for a major incident protocol to be adopted natiownide, as was done in March 2018. This would likely see all non-emergency admissions stopped, elective procedures cancelled, and extra bed capacity sourced from the private and public sectors.
It is also calling for an end to the HSE's recruitment pause, which is leaving services understaffed.
According to INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, Ireland's health service "continues to break records in the worst possible way".
"The excuse that this is all down to the flu simply doesn't hold. There are always extra patients in winter, but we simply do not get the extra capacity to cope. This is entirely predictable, yet we seemingly fail to deal with it every year.
"Behind these numbers are hundreds of individual vulnerable patients. It is a simply shameful situation. This is entirely preventable if proper planning was in place," she commented.
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