Wednesday 25 April 2018

Eight-fold rise in patients on trolleys at Waterford

University Hospital Waterford
University Hospital Waterford

David Looby

The number of patients on trolleys at University Hospital Waterford has increased eight-fold over the past eight years, according to figures provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The hospital, which is used by thousands of people across County Wexford, is listed among the worst performing nationally when it comes to overcrowding which is affecting response times to emergency calls and also routine patient transfers.

In 2008, the last year for which full figures are available, there were 496 patients on trolleys at the hospital, compared to 589 in 2009, 1,349 in 2010, 1,165 in 2011, 1,590 in 2012, 2,269 in 2013, 2,249 in 2014, 2,445 in 2015 and 5,435 in 2016.

National figures show a 58 per cent increase from 2008 to 2016, but the increase has been far greater at University Hospital Waterford.

Meanwhile Wexford General Hospital recorded around a 70 per cent drop in patients on trolleys between 2016 and 2006, but this bucks the national trend of a 68 per cent increase in this ten-year period.

At St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny there were 1,034 patients listed on trolleys in 2011, compared with 3,144 in 2016.

According to ward and trolley watch figures on Tuesday last there were 27 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Waterford, four of which were in wards and 23 of whom were on trolleys. This compares to 18 in Wexford General Hospital and 41 in St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.

Ward Watch, launched in April 2013, is a count of the number of additional patients on beds, trolleys or chairs, on inpatient wards above the stated complement of that ward and provides a picture of whole hospital overcrowding.

Trade union SIPTU has said that ambulances are facing significant delays at University Hospital Waterford, along with several other hospitals, due to overcrowding. Paul Bell, SIPTU health division organiser, said that it is affecting responses to emergency calls and also routine patient transfers. He said a normal handover takes an average of 20 minutes but this has now increased to between one and three hours. Ambulances are arriving with patients outside emergency departments, but unable to hand them over, due to overcrowding, he said.

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