UHK trolley numbers at record high
Last month was the worst August on record for overcrowding at University Hospital Kerry according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO)
The INMO's monthly Trolley Watch analysis showed that 300 admitted patients were forced to wait on chairs or trolleys in August 2018 - an increase of 76 per cent on the same month last year.
Nationally 7,911 patients were accommodated on trolleys in Irish hospitals during August. INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha - who hails from Ceann Trá - said the cause of and solution to the situation comes down to pay.
"Even though it was a mild month, patients and staff faced record overcrowding. Nearly 8,000 sick and injured people were forced to wait without a bed," she said.
"The message from the frontline is clear: this all comes down to pay.
"The HSE simply cannot find enough nurses and midwives to work on these wages. It's no coincidence that Limerick, for example, has had such a bad month, as they have over 70 unfilled nursing vacancies," said Ms Ní Sheaghdha
"Unless nurses and midwives get pay equality with similarly qualified health professionals, vacancies will remain open and things will only get worse," she added.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha and senior officials from the INMO are due to meet the HSE and the Department of Health at the Workplace Relations Commission this week to discuss the linked issues of under-staffing and overcrowding.
The INMO said it will ask the HSE to present plans for dealing with the winter crisis, including which services they plan to curtail to meet extra demand.
Last week saw the number of people on trolleys at UHK reach near-record levels.
On Tuesday, August 28, there were 27 patients on trolleys at UHK's Emergency Department.
That's the third highest daily figure recorded in Kerry since the INMO launched its 'Trolley Watch' service in 2004.
The HSE has said it is making every possible effort to deal with delays in emergency departments.