More than 10,000 people on hospital trolleys in April

INMO says overcrowding problem has more than doubled since it started collating data

More than 10,000 patients were forced to wait without hospital beds last month, according to a new monthly analysis by the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Every morning at 8am, INMO members count how many patients are waiting in the emergency department for a bed and how many are waiting in wards elsewhere in the hospital.

The trolley watch counts the number of patients who have been admitted to acute hospitals but who are waiting for a free bed.

These patients are often being treated on trolleys in corridors, but they may also be on chairs, in waiting rooms, or simply wherever there’s space.


The figure of 10,229 is the highest ever number of patients on trolleys in April, and represents an 8 per cent increase on April last year and a 125 per cent increase on April 2006 when figures began.

Among the 10,229 patients were 106 children.

The worst-affected hospitals were University Hospital Limerick (1,206 patients); Cork University Hospital (826 patients); University Hospital Galway (683 patients); South Tipperary General Hospital (623 patients); and Tallaght University Hospital (566 patients).

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the problem of overcrowding in hospitals has more than doubled since the organisation began collating data.

“This is the second month in 2019 where over 10,000 patients have been forced to wait without a bed,” she said. “The crisis is without question worsening.

“Overcrowding hits two main groups directly: those who depend on public health services and those who work in them, providing the safest care they can in these conditions.

“We started the trolley count over a decade ago because of unacceptable overcrowding. The problem has more than doubled since then.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter