Patients on trolleys ‘a real problem’, Varadkar says

Figures for July show 8% increase in numbers since last year

The number of patients on trolleys at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has doubled in the past year, figures for July show. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The number of patients on trolleys at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has doubled in the past year, figures for July show. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 20:10

The number of patients on trolleys in some hospital emergency departments is “a real problem”, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has admitted.

Responding to figures which show an 8 per cent yearly increase in the number of patients on trolleys last month, Mr Varadkar said the HSE had responded by releasing €5 million for packages to speed up the discharge of patients and have them transferred home or to long-term care facilities.

“Most patients now in emergency departments will be in a bed or at home within nine hours. I am monitoring the trolley count on a daily basis and in some hospitals it is a real problem,” he said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, which compiles the figures, said that five hospital emergency departments suffered big increases in the number of patients on trolleys between July 2013 and July 2014.

At Sligo Regional Hospital, the number of trolleys grew from 45 to 129, a rise of 187 per cent. Dublin’s Mater hospital and St James’s Hospital saw trolley numbers grow by 154 per cent, while there was a doubling of numbers at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.