Over 4,400 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide last month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
According to the INMO's latest ‘Trolley Watch' figures, 4,499 admitted hospital patients were left waiting on trolleys in October. This is more than nine times higher than the trolley figures for last April (497), when the country was in its first COVID-19 lockdown.
Since then, the figures have been increasing, hitting 4,599 in September. However this is still far lower than the figures recorded in January (12,024), before the pandemic had taken hold.
The worst affected hospitals last month were University Hospital Limerick (1,064), Cork University Hospital (685) and Mayo University Hospital (359).
The INMO warned that staffing numbers continue to be badly affected by high COVID infection rates among healthcare workers. It has called for plans to tackle overcrowding.
"We were told at the beginning of this pandemic that there would be a zero tolerance policy toward overcrowding across the health service, to ensure hospitals were safe. Unfortunately we're now seeing an average of 200 patients per day without beds, and the figures are climbing," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
She said that this is "highly dangerous at the best of times", but even more so this year because of COVID-19.
"We are over a month into the winter period and we're seeing 4,500 patients per month on trolleys. We're very concerned about how this will play out for the rest of the winter. We desperately need safe staffing levels across the entire service this winter if we want to keep staff and patients safe," Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.