Patients on trolleys in hospitals during July hits record 6,700

Drogheda hospital has highest number of patients on trolleys, reaching 769 last month

More people than ever before are spending time on trolleys in Irish hospitals.

More people than ever before are spending time on trolleys in Irish hospitals.

 

More than 6,700 people were counted on trolleys in Irish hospitals last month by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the highest ever figure figure for July.

The INMO’s Trolley and Ward Watch shows an average of 292 people were on trolleys on each day, the highest average figure for July since the count began in 2004.

There are significant variations around the country, with some hospitals experiencing a big increase in the number of people recorded on trolleys last month compared to July 2013.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda had the highest number of patients on trolleys – at 769 last month – more than twice that of the same period in 2013, while the figure in University College Hospital Galway also doubled, from 295 to 654.

The Mater hospital in Dublin had more than three times as many patients on trolleys last month compared with two years ago.

Some smaller hospitals also recorded large increases between July 2013 and July 2015: Kerry General and Sligo General witnessed an almost fourfold increase, while the number on trolleys in St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny last month was almost three times that of July 2013.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, director of industrial relations with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, said more acute beds were needed. “Surely somebody somewhere must twig that if you have more than a hospital full of patients for who there are no beds on a daily basis, that we need more acute beds,” she said.

“Our acute hospitals are at over 100 per cent occupancy constantly, which means our staff never have a chance to do anything but fire fight,” she said.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha also called for the development of the primary care system, including a workforce plan of three to six years “at a minimum” which she said would help relieve the pressures on the acute hospital system.

Responding to the figures, a spokeswoman for the HSE said the number of people on trolleys in Irish hospitals was a “priority issue” adding that the provision of €74 million in additional Government funding had, and would continue to help reduce the number of delayed discharges in hospitals across the country.

Reduction

The spokeswoman said this had resulted in a reduction of waiting numbers for the Fair Deal scheme, from a high of more than 1,400 to a current average of 540, and the addition of almost 150 community hospital beds to date, with more opening in the coming weeks.

She said these and other initiatives had “supported reductions in delayed discharges across the country and will also allow for the targeting of specific hospitals who continue to experience high levels of admission and delayed discharge activity”.