Hospital is bursting at seams as over 50 lie on trolleys
THE biggest hospital in the West is bursting at the seams as staff battle to cope with unprecedented numbers.
Figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) showed that 51 patients -- the largest number in the country -- were on trolleys at the emergency department of Galway University Hospital (GUH) yesterday.
And the IMPACT trade union revealed that hospital management had instigated the full-capacity protocol on 10 separate days since October 3.
IMPACT has described the situation as unprecedented and pointed to the closure of the A&E department at Roscommon Hospital as a major reason for the steep rise in demand for beds at GUH.
Padraig Mulligan, deputy general secretary of IMPACT, said: "Before last month, the last time I saw the full-capacity protocol being implemented was at Christmas last year.
"Obviously, the decision to close the emergency department at Roscommon Hospital has put an extra strain on services in Galway".
Mr Mulligan claimed that some patients had been forced to spend three nights on trolleys for the first time in the history of GUH due to the extra demand on resources over the last few weeks.
He called for the opening up of step-down facilities for patients who are almost ready to be discharged from hospital, in order to free up acute beds. IMPACT is also seeking an end to the practice of employing agency staff -- the union insists these workers cost 25pc more than direct employees.
Meanwhile, yesterday's figures compiled by the INMO put the Galway hospital at the top of the league for most patients on trolleys.
Cork University Hospital was second, with 31 on trolleys, followed by Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda with 29.
The INMO insisted that overcrowding at emergency departments in all parts of the country was compromising safety.
In a statement last night, HSE West said the Galway hospital was working to reduce the length of time patients had to wait on trolleys.
It said: "At all times, the hospital seeks to minimise the number of patients who have to wait on trolleys in the emergency department and the hospital has escalation policies in place to deal with surges in activity."
In addition, said the HSE, the hospital could implement the full-capacity protocol, so that a number of patients may be transferred to wards in the hospital where they are monitored until a bed is available.
The statement added: "GUH, in conjunction with the Special Delivery Unit, is working to achieve targets set to reduce elective waiting lists by the end of the year. Specific surgery beds are ring-fenced for this purpose."