Worst week for hospital overcrowding ever recorded

3,100+ patients left without beds
  • Deborah Condon

More than 3,100 patients were left waiting for hospital beds in the first week of January 2020, making it the worst week for overcrowding since records began, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.

Between January 6-10, a total of 3,143 admitted patients were left waiting on trolleys and chairs in hospitals nationwide. Some 760 patients were left waiting on both January 6 and 7 - the highest daily figures ever recorded.

The worst affected hospitals this week were University Hospital Limerick (322), University Hospital Galway (212), and Cork University Hospital and South Tipperary General Hospital (both 210).

The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater Hospital (162), while the worst affected children's hospital was Temple Street Children's University Hospital (13).

Of the 3,143 admitted patients left waiting this week, 2,065 were waiting in Emergency Departments (EDs), while 1,078 were waiting on wards or elsewhere.

Previously, the worst week for overcrowding was in March 2018 during the ‘Beast from the East' storms, when 3,112 patients were left waiting for beds.

"This has been an incredibly difficult week for our members in EDs and on understaffed, overcrowded wards. Patient care has been repeatedly put at risk. It cannot be repeated.

"We need to draw a line in the sand and ensure that we make consistent progress in reducing overcrowding. We know how to fix this problem. When hospitals have secured safe staffing and extra capacity, they have reduced the overcrowding problem," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.

The organisation has called for a number of policies to be implemented, including an end to the current recruitment freeze and the rollout of the Sláintecare health reforms.


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