Number of patients on hospital trolleys still ‘at record levels’

Nurses’ union welcomes drop of 7 per cent in November compared to previous year

Over 8,000 admitted patients were treated on hospital trolleys or in overcrowded wards in November, the INMO said.

Over 8,000 admitted patients were treated on hospital trolleys or in overcrowded wards in November, the INMO said.

 

The number of patients on hospital trolleys continues at “record levels”, but was some 7 per cent lower in November than in the same month last year, according to the nursing union.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said 8,688 admitted patients spent time on trolleys in emergency departments or overcrowded wards last month.

In total, for the first eleven months of the year, some 91,147 admitted patients were treated on trolleys.

This was a 6 per cent increase on the first eleven months of last year and a 95 per cent increase on the first eleven months of 2007, the organisation said.

University Hospital Limerick was the hospital with the highest number of patients on trolleys last month, with a total of 878. University Hospital Cork had 651 patients on trolleys, University Hospital Waterford had 624 and University Hospital Galway had 539, according to INMO calculations.

At Letterkenny General Hospital there were 502 admitted patients treated on trolleys.

An emergency department taskforce will meet on Thursday and the INMO said it would be again seeking confirmation that all hospitals were properly resourced and allowed to open all available beds.

It would also request that they be allowed to introduce incentivised recruitment and retention packages to ensure additional nursing staff were employed to deal with this continuing demand.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the trolley figures for November confirmed a welcome 7 per cent reduction in the number of admitted patients without a bed compared to the same month last year.

“However, the very significant increase in additional patients on inpatient wards, on trolleys or additional beds is most disturbing and suggests hospital management are increasingly repeating the mistakes of the past,” he said.

“Overcrowding wards has never solved the problem of hospital overcrowding and this will only be done through additional acute beds.”

He said the organisation would be seeking clarity at Thursday’s meeting on what further measures were planned to address the continuing overcrowding crisis.

In August, the HSE said it would seek extra resources for the winter from the Department of Health, after figures at that time showed the highest ever level of trolley overcrowding.

Explaining the overcrowding, the HSE pointed to a 2 per cent rise in emergency attendances this year and a 3 per cent rise in admissions.

Among patients aged 75 years and over, attendances were at that time up 12 per cent and admissions by 11 per cent.