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A&E bed queues crisis deepens

The number of patients waiting on trolleys for a hospital bed was at its worst last year.

A&E records showed overcrowding was 35pc more serious in 2010 than in 2006 - when it was declared a national emergency with 75,007 people forced to queue for care in a ward.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the trend of trolley waits in the first few weeks of this year suggested that the crisis was deepening.

Liam Doran, INMO general secretary, said queues in emergency rooms were a national disgrace.

"There is very little to be added to the picture confirmed by these stark and shocking figures," he said.

"We do not need experts to tell us that we need to open the closed beds, provide nurse led minor injury clinics and additional resources for primary care services in order to deal with this problem."

Mr Doran called on all parties contesting the election to say what measures they would introduce within 30 days of being in government to address A&E overcrowding, alleviate indignity on patients and reduce excessive workloads on frontline staff.

He said the crisis eased in 2006 after a number of initiatives were introduced but have subsequently been phased out since 2008.

The INMO record of waits in emergency rooms found that in 2006, when the issue was declared a national crisis, 55,720 patients had to spend time on a trolley or chair waiting for a bed.

Nurses said by last year there were about 25,000 more people forced into similar waits.

Mr Doran said: "The recent announcement, that a 'team of experts' had landed in six or seven of the worst affected hospitals, to advise on this problem, eight years after it began, only adds insult to the injury being suffered by patients, every day, as a result of this national disgrace."

He also claimed that putting extra beds on in-patient wards was a tried, flawed and failed practice of the past.

Mr Doran called on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to open closed beds, provide nurse-led minor injury clinics and additional resources for primary care services.

The INMO report found the worst hospitals for A&E waits last year were in the Leinster region.

- Beaumont in north Dublin recorded 8,155 patients forced to wait on a trolley;

- 6,968 in the Adelaide & Meath Hospital in Tallaght;

- Cork University saw 6888 people queue for care;

- St Vincent's in south Dublin saw 6,062;

- 5,402 in the Mater Hospital in Dublin's north inner city.

PA Media