Hospital's 30pc rise in patients on trolleys

Cormac Murphy

THE number of patients on trolleys at two of Dublin's biggest hospitals has shown a marked rise.

The increases for the emergency departments at Beaumont and St Vincent's hospitals were 30pc and 23pc, respectively, for the first two weeks of August, compared to the same period last year.

A total of 291 patients were on trolleys in Beaumont between August 2 and 15 last, up from 224 on the equivalent period in 2010.


At St Vincent's, the figure this year was 272, compared to 222 last year.

When the data was put to Beaumont, a spokesman said the timeframe is too short.

"(The figures) go up and down. There is a huge variety. To take a 10-day period, it's extremely difficult and quite misrepresentative (to draw any conclusions)," he told the Herald.

St James's Hospital recorded the largest rise during the fortnight, with 124pc more patients on trolleys. However, the figures involved were much smaller, with the number only going from 17 to 38.

Despite significant cost pressures, other major hospitals actually managed to record a reduction.

The Mater, Tallaght and Connolly hospitals all saw falls in the number of sick people left waiting for beds.

The data shows 183 patients were left on trolleys in the Mater for the 2010 period. The number fell by 9pc to 166 this year.

Tallaght experienced a 24pc drop, while the decrease for Connolly Hospital was 5pc.

The figures were provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Beaumont insisted "it would be difficult to read anything" into the data, pointing out the length of wait is a better guide.

The spokesman said the figures vary widely from one day to the next.

Across the five Dublin units, the overall increase was 6pc.

St James's told the Herald the hospital's emergency department is dealing with "ongoing pressures".

"One of the things that would increase the pressure is the increase in the number of people occupying beds whose length of stay is over and who have not been moved into other facilities," a spokesman said.

He added that it is an issue "across the board, nationally and in Dublin".

There has been "quite an increase" in the number of people waiting to be discharged.

The HSE previously did not accept the INMO figures but reversed this position earlier in the year.

It wrote to all its Regional Directors of Operations telling them the INMO figures should be used to calculate the numbers of patients on trolleys.