Twice as many now left on trolleys
More than twice as many patients were languishing on trolleys for longer than nine hours nationwide yesterday as two years ago, according to the HSE's own audit.
By 2pm yesterday there were 171 patients on trolleys for nine hours or more - compared to 82 on the same day in 2014.
The ongoing overcrowding in hospital emergency departments, in the face of understaffing, is expected to be highlighted by nurses who are to launch a new action campaign this week.
The executive committee of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation began two days of discussions yesterday to come up with the campaign that will result in a ballot for industrial action.
The action will trigger unless agreement is reached to reduce the workload brought about by lack of full-time nurses.
Separate trolley figures counted in emergency departments by the nurses' union yesterday morning showed University Hospital Limerick was struggling with a massive 58 patients who waited for a bed.
Some 42 of these patients were in the emergency department and the rest were moved on trolleys to wards to try to ease the congestion. University Hospital Galway was also badly hit by overcrowding although there was some reprieve yesterday for Dublin hospitals with no patient on a trolley in Beaumont Hospital yesterday morning.
Hospital overcrowding is set to worsen in the coming weeks as the weather gets colder and more people are admitted with winter-related complaints.
Meanwhile, talks get underway with junior doctors today on the restoration of these living-out allowance.
They are threatening to ballot for industrial action if the allowance is not restored.