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30pc surge in patients left on trolleys

CRISIS-hit Tallaght Hospital has seen the number of patients left on trolleys jump by 30pc since last year.

Hopes that hospitals might be getting more efficient seem to have been quashed by the new figures, which show a dramatically worsened situation at the Dublin facility.

Instead of any improvement being made, an additional 127 people were waiting on trolleys in June compared to the same time last year.

The problem has been described as "drastic" by Senator Frances Fitzgerald (FG) who described the 30pc jump as "staggering".

Earlier this month, the Herald revealed how the hospital's CEO-designate Kevin Conlon quit the top post in a shock decision.

And there will be further problems for the hospital in the coming weeks, when a report into 58,000 overlooked X-rays is published.

Now new figures show there were 563 patients on trolleys in June compared with just 436 for the same month last year.

The problem hit a high last week of 44 patients on a single day, according to statistics compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Ms Fitzgerald says that her office has fielding calls in recent days from concerned patients.

She has firmly laid the blame on Health Minister Mary Harney saying that she has done little to solve the issue since a overcrowding emergency was declared in 2006.

"More than four years later, rather than overcrowding getting any better it is actually getting worse," she said.

"While a 30pc increase in numbers is astounding, given the state of our healthcare system which is presided over by this Government and the HSE, I cannot say I am all that surprised."

According to the Dublin Mid-West senator, the problem is fuelled by a lack of GP cover in the area which forces patients to rely on their local A&E for medical intervention and treatment.

"If Fianna Fail and the Greens concentrated on getting the basics right by ensuring sufficient GP and Primary Care coverage, a real difference to the trolley figures could be made. Instead, we have a Government that has given up the fight," she said.