Sunday 20 August 2017

'Hospitals simply cannot cope' - record levels of overcrowding in hospitals during first six months of 2017

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

There were record levels of overcrowding in Irish hospitals for the first six months of 2017, according to a new report by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The new report shows that in the first six months of this year, 51,321 patients were on trolleys in Emergency Department and ward areas.

This represents a six per cent increase on the first six months of 2016.

The figures also confirm that in the month of June there were 7,124 patients on trolleys which is a 21pc increase on June 2016.

According to the INMO, the most overcrowded hospital is the University Hospital Limerick with 640 patients on a trolley.

The University Hospital Galway was the second worst with 566 patients waiting, followed by the Mater Hospital Dublin (532), Cork University Hospital (469) and University Hospital Waterford (406).

The latest figures come after a slight improvement in April but confirm an ever growing demand for impatient services upon our health service which continues to suffer from inadequate number of beds and staff.

The INMO said that the figures confirm these hospitals do not have the capacity to provide the required services for both planned and emergency admissions.

The new report also shows that in the first six months there was a reduction in the numbers of patients on trolleys, in Dublin, while a significant increase has taken place in hospitals outside of Dublin.

However, in the month of June, both Dublin and country hospitals saw an increase in patients on trolleys when compared to June 2016.

A number of Emergency Departments are enduring severe nursing staff shortages due to a combination of vacant posts, staff leave and inability to provide emergency staffing through agencies.

This record level of overcrowding, and the need for emergency/immediate measures to elevate the situation, will be raised, by the INMO, at the meeting of the Emergency Department Taskforce taking place this afternoon.

Speaking this morning, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said that the figures "represent further evidence that our health service, through inadequate bed and staffing levels, simply cannot cope with the demands being placed upon it".

"The legitimate attempts to reduce waiting lists has only exacerbated the levels of overcrowding, with the indignity and loss of privacy that result, now taking place, in this peak summer period, in Emergency Departments and Wards across the country.

"These figures confirm that hospitals cannot deal with both planned and emergency admissions at the same time confirming that our health service remains far too small."

Mr Doran added that the Government and HSE "must bring forward emergency measures, including resources, to immediately address this totally unacceptable situation”.

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