COVID and hospital overcrowding a "toxic" mix

Concerns ahead of winter surge
  • Deborah Condon

Overcrowding in hospitals along with COVID-19 make for a "toxic combination", the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned.

It has expressed serious concern about the increasing number of patients on hospital trolleys during a time when the health service is already under immense pressure from COVID-19.

According to the INMO, 50 patients were on trolleys in Cork University Hospital on Wednesday morning, while nationwide, a total of 221 patients were on trolleys. This is the highest trolley figure since COVID restrictions were announced last March.

The organisation has warned that the "toxic combination" of COVID-19 and overcrowding increases the risk of infection, endangering both patients and staff.

"COVID and overcrowding make for a toxic combination. This is a deadly virus and our frontline members are rightly worried for their safety and that of their patients. Infection control is compromised in a hospital with patients in corridors and on trolleys," commented INMO industrial relations officer, Liam Conway.

In a letter to the INMO last May, the HSE stated that "overcrowded health and social care facilities will no longer be tolerated".

"The HSE assured us that there would be no tolerance of overcrowding during COVID. Yet no actions have been taken and we are sleepwalking back to mass overcrowding," Mr Conway warned.

The INMO is calling for the Government to intervene immediately.

"It is time for direct Government intervention, especially ahead of the annual winter surge. We need to fund extra beds, expand step-down care, and fund additional home care packages. And this all needs a funded workforce plan to recruit additional nurses and midwives immediately," Mr Conway added.


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