‘Truly shocking’: Almost 750 people waiting on a hospital trolley including 32 children

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said the figure should be a ‘wake up call’ to ensure record breaking trolley numbers are not reached over the coming weeks

Almost 750 patients were waiting on a hospital trolley on Monday morning, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Hospital beds come under pressure at this time of year due to the increased spread of seasonal illnesses such as influenza.

A total of 747 patients were waiting on a trolley for a hospital bed, of which 559 were waiting in an emergency department. The total number also includes 32 children under the age of 16.

University Hospital Limerick (UHL), which frequently has the highest level of overcrowding, had the highest number of patients on a trolley at 109. In October of this year, the hospital set a new record high of 130 patients on a trolley.


INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the latest figures are “truly shocking” and should be a “wake up call” to ensure record breaking trolley numbers are not reached over the coming weeks.

“The HSE must take action in the form of accelerating the use of private hospital beds, the immediate cancellation of all non-urgent elective activity and the introduction of heightened infection control measures in all hospitals,” she said.

“We are today seeking urgent engagement with the chief executive of the HSE and the Minister for Health to discuss what measures can be taken this week to protect the dignity of sick patients and the safety nurses who are trying to provide care in suboptimal conditions.”

She added: “The INMO has been warning that dangerous levels of overcrowding were imminent. There is still time to avoid intolerable levels of overcrowding ahead of Christmas and the New Year if action is taken now.”

Speaking to politicians at an Oireachtas committee meeting recently, chief executive of the HSE Bernard Gloster said trolley waits and pressures will be a “feature of our services”.

“The focus of the HSE is to ensure that these are not only to the minimum extent possible but also that there is a pathway to continuous improvement,” he added.

Mr Gloster said the HSE would be moving away from annual winter plans and would instead introduce a new unscheduled management plan.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times