Numbers on trolleys waiting for beds in Tipperary ‘astronomical’

More than 540 patients admitted to hospitals across State are without bed

The worst-hit for overcrowding are University Hospital Limerick, which has 70 patients waiting for a bed; followed by Cork University Hospital, 68; and South Tipperary General Hospital, 45. Photograph: Alan Betson

The worst-hit for overcrowding are University Hospital Limerick, which has 70 patients waiting for a bed; followed by Cork University Hospital, 68; and South Tipperary General Hospital, 45. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Some 541 admitted hospital patients were waiting for beds on Wednesday, according to nurses.

Latest figures by the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) show 390 of those patients were admitted for emergency care.

They were forced to wait on trolleys in corridors, in waiting room chairs or wherever they could find a space during the day.

Another 151 were waiting for a bed in other wards.

The worst-hit for overcrowding were University Hospital Limerick, which has 70 patients waiting for a bed during the day, followed by Cork University Hospital, which has 68, and South Tipperary General Hospital , which has 45.

Michael Pidgeon, head of communications for the INMO, said South Tipperary Hospital, in Clonmel, is particularly pronounced as it is one of the smallest emergency departments in the country.

High for summer

“And it is consistently like this,” he said. “As a percentage of its intended capacity, the numbers waiting for a bed is astronomical.”

Mr Pidgeon said the overall figures were high for the summer, when there is usually expected to be some decline in the numbers forced to wait.

“It is certainly within a pattern of a very high number of patients on trolleys for August, and very high numbers during the year,” he said.

“Last year broke all records, last month broke all records and this is pretty high, especially considering it is summer.

“We usually see these kinds of figures in winter. Summer is supposed to be a bit of a respite.”

Record overcrowding

The INMO revealed last month that hospitals experienced their worst July on record for overcrowding in emergency departments.

Nearly 9,500 (9,439) hospital patients who were deemed to require admission had to wait on trolleys or chairs for a bed.

The nurses’ union said this represented an increase of 33 per cent compared with the figures recorded in July 2018.

INMO director of industrial relations Tony Fitzpatrick said at the time that increased demands on the health service were expected in the winter “but now even summer sees patients crammed into corridors on trolleys”.

It was “creating unacceptable risks for patients and health workers alike”, he added.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said it regrets that any patient should have to wait for admission from a hospital emergency department to a hospital ward.

“Acute hospitals are continuing to see a year on year increase in the number of patients requiring treatment and care. Year to date ED (emergency department) attendances at the end of June 2019 were 4.4 per cent higher when compared to last year.

“119,610 patient attendances were recorded in our 29 Emergency Departments in June 2019, the latest month for which validated data is available. 32,295 of these patients were admitted to hospital for further treatment,” she said.

“All patients admitted from ED remain under the care of our ED staff until they can transfer to the appropriate hospital ward,” she added.