Monday 16 September 2019

'Worst year on record' for overcrowding as 100,000 people forced to wait on trolleys

Two elderly men lying on trolleys in the A&E department of Tallaght Hospital
Two elderly men lying on trolleys in the A&E department of Tallaght Hospital
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A staggering 100,000 patients have waited on trolleys for a bed so far this year - the highest on record.

Nurses warned that with “one month left in the year, 2018 is already the worst on record for overcrowding.”

There are 451 patients are on trolleys and chairs across Ireland’s hospitals today – bringing the total for 2018 so far to 100,385, said the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisaton.

The worst-affected hospitals so far this year are:

  • University Hospital Limerick – 10,554
  • Cork University Hospital – 8,566
  • University Hospital Galway – 6,821
  • Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore – 5,362
  • Tallaght University Hospital – 5,085

The worst year on record before this year was 2017, which saw 98,981 patients by the end of the year.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:“It’s not even December and we’ve already broken the record for the most patients on trolleys. Behind these statistics are vulnerable individual patients, forced to wait in unsafe, uncomfortable conditions.

“Frontline health workers are pulling out all the stops to deliver care in impossible circumstances. But the health service simply does not have enough capacity or staff.

“Adding extra beds requires extra nurses and midwives. Without addressing the recruitment and retention crisis, the HSE will not be able to recruit enough nurses and midwives to resolve this crisis.”

A spokesperson for the the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) says the figures show the "depth of the crisis" facing the health service.

President of the IMO, Peadar Gilligan, described the situation as a "national disgrace".

He added: “100,000 patients in Ireland experienced an overnight wait for a ward bed on trolleys or chairs in crowded Emergency Departments already this year. A larger number than ever by this time of the year.

“When will this national disgrace be definitively addressed? When will our Government stop telling us it cannot be addressed overnight?.

“Trolley waits in Ireland have been a patient care issue for two decades.

“When will the suffering of patients and staff be addressed with adequate bed capacity and staffing levels?

“Judging on the information released thus far, the HSE’s winter plan will not in any way improve the severely damaged morale amongst doctors and frontline staff, nor will it attract staff to work in a public health service that has no capacity, no supports and that is under constant pressure.

“While any extra funding is welcome, this plan will not help us avoid the kind of overcrowding which we have seen in recent winters.

“Overall, this plan fails to address the root causes of the problems facing our health service.”

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