Mary Buckley, from Loughrea, Co Galway, at the INMO Annual Conference in Kilkenny yesterday. Inset: Health Minister Dr James Reilly delivering his address. Michael Brophy
Health Minister Dr James Reilly yesterday admitted that Health Service Executive figures do not reflect the reality of the number of people on hospital trolleys.
Dr Reilly -- who was addressing the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) conference in Kilkenny -- said the INMO's counting method will be used by the HSE in future.
Dr Reilly said he wanted to reach a point where patients were either admitted to a ward or discharged within a six-hour period, as part of plans to address the crisis in emergency units.
In the meantime, however, a country-wide process of measuring the number of people on trolleys would be introduced.
"We drilled down and examined the figures and the INMO figures are closer to the reality than the HSE figures. I'm quite prepared to admit that," he said.
The HSE said last night that it welcomed "the agreement to transition to the use of a single measure for trolley delays. Hospitals will be advised to implement this single measure in the coming weeks.
"International and national expertise recommends the use of the six-hour target as the most effective measurement of delays in emergency departments. This will be implemented as part of an overall strategy to reduce all waiting times in emergency departments".
Earlier, INMO president Sheila Dickson warned that patients were being put at risk due to a decrease in the number of nurses that has resulted from a moratorium on recruitment.
She also said nurses would continue to oppose moves to put extra beds on wards to accommodate patients from emergency departments.
The minister has refused to lift the moratorium and told nurses that the health service needs to see more redeployment of staff.
He said he had government sanction to set up a review of the last Government's decision to axe pay for student nurses. He said this review would go ahead and the nurses' unions would have input into its terms of reference.