Monday 19 March 2018

Trolley crisis: No reprieve as hospitals continue to run out of beds

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Eilish O'Regan, Health Correspondent

Hospitals continued to run out of beds today as A&Es saw little reprieve with 575 patients on trolleys across the country.

The worst hit hospitals were on opposite sides of the country.

Cork University Hospital was struggling to cope with 46 patients waiting for a bed and Letterkenny General Hospital had another 44 patients on trolleys.

The national figures compare to last week’s record high of 656 but the failure to make a major dent in the queues comes despite the triggering of a series of measures including the opening of beds and transfer of patients to private facilities.

Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said HSE officials  have confirmed that all acute hospitals have been advised to make every acute bed available, particularly isolation beds and intensive care beds if needed.

“The  emergency taskforce confirmed that strict adherence to the agreed escalation policy, all patient flow measures, including cancellation of elective surgery/procedures and utilisation of beds in private hospitals are required,” she said.

“The HSE public health advisor advised that the impact of influenza is likely to increase this week and peak.

“There is a realisation by all that acute beds are needed to correct the capacity problem and that without additional nurses such beds cannot be put into use.  Current efforts to recruit and retain nurses are failing and it is clear that real investment and incentives are needed to attract and retain sufficient numbers of nurses if utilisation of the additional beds is to be realised.

“It is now necessary, that prior to the end of January 2018, a meeting to agree the funded workforce plan, for nursing and midwifery, for 2018, takes place.

"This is extremely important and must include matters such as ensuring the maximum of Irish graduates remaining in Ireland post-qualification this September”.

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