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Hospital trolley crisis worsening

Last month was the worst January on record for the number of patients kept on Trolleys at University Hospital Kerry.

According to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation 418 patients spent time on trolleys at UHK in January.

It is the highest trolley total for January recorded at the hospital since the INMO started its daily trolley watch service.

The January trolley figure at UHK has grown steadily every year since 2012. That January 64 patients were forced to wait for treatment on trolleys.

By January 2016 the figure had more than trebled reaching 199. Since 2016 trolley numbers more then doubled to reach the 418 recorded last month.

The January trolley tally figure isn't the only unwelcome record recently set at UHK.

The all time daily record for the most patients on trolleys at UHK was set on December 30 last when there were 39 people on trolleys.

It was the highest daily figure ever recorded at Kerry's main hospital since the INMO first launched its 'Trolley Watch' service in 2004. Tuesday's figure is three patients more than the previous record of 36 patients on trolleys, recorded at UHK in April 2019.

Since 'Trolley Watch' was launched 15 years ago every morning at 8am, INMO members count how many patients are waiting for a bed in the hospital.

These patients are often being treated on trolleys in corridors, but they may also be on chairs, in waiting rooms, or simply wherever there's space.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Shéaghdha - a native of West Kerry - said solutions to the problem exist but politicians have failed to display leadership.

"To show real leadership on health, political leaders need to set out how they will grow capacity, recruit more staff, and really kick-start the Sláintecare reforms," she said.

"It's not rocket science: we know how to fix the health service. The plan is there. All we need is the investment and political will to back up manifesto promises," said Ms Ní Shéaghdha.