Unwelcome milestone for hospital

Number on trolleys at University Hospital Kerry hits all-time high

Simon Brouder

The number of patients on trolleys at University Hospital Kerry reached an all-time record high in the last week.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's daily 'Trolley Watch' there were 26 people on trolleys in UHK's Emergency Department last Thursday, January 4.

That's nine more than the previous all-time record for the most patients on trolleys at the hospital (formerly Kerry General Hospital) which was set in January 2016, when there were 17 patients on trolleys in the ED and on various wards.

The INMO began releasing its daily 'Trolley Watch' figures, which are published each morning from Monday to Friday, in late 2004.

The number of patients on trolleys in the Emergency Unit and onwards at UHK increased sharply in recent days.

From an average of 11 a day in the second half of December, the number of patients on trolleys at UHK began to climb sharply from last Tuesday, January 2, according to the INMO's statistics.

On December 29 there were eight patients on trolleys. This increased to 23 by Wednesday, January 3, before reaching its all-time peak of 26 on Thursday, January 4.

According to the 'Trolley Watch' figures, there were 20 patients on trolleys in the ED at UHK on this Tuesday.

The HSE said they are working to address the matter and that every possible effort is being made to deal with the delays in the Emergency Unit.

Senior HSE management said that much of the problem was the result of the spread of flu over the winter and that further delays could arise as the normal flu season is still three to four weeks from peaking.

The HSE said the high figures had been anticipated and that measures had been put in place in all hospitals to lessen the time patients spend on trolleys.

These measures include the cancellation of certain non-urgent elective surgeries; increased levels of home care and extended opening hours for assessment units and diagnostic services.