Nurses organisation INMO says 518 are on hospital trolleys

Doubts about measures ordered by Leo Varadkar to free up beds as numbers stay high

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: he set up an emergency department taskforce, co-chaired by representatives of the HSE and the INMO, which met on Monday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: he set up an emergency department taskforce, co-chaired by representatives of the HSE and the INMO, which met on Monday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A total of 518 patients are on hospital trolleys today, the seventh highest figure since the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation began counting numbers a decade ago.

The stubbornly high number of patients awaiting admission this year will put further pressure on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the HSE, which have implemented measures aimed at freeing up beds in the State’s hospitals.

Some of the worst overcrowding is in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick, where 54 people are on trolleys. The situation in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin remains serious, with 48 patients on trolleys.

Other hospitals with high trolley numbers include University Hospital Galway (38), Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda (30) and Letterkenny General Hospital (29).

The HSE has been given €25 million to fund step-down facilities, including nursing-home beds and home-care packages, so clinically well patients can be discharged from hospital. The delay of over 750 such discharges has played a major role in the crisis.

The Government promised earlier in its term never to have more than 569 patients, the previous record, on trolleys but this commitment was broken on January 6th when 601 people were on trolleys.

Mr Varadkar has set up an emergency-department taskforce, co-chaired by representatives of the HSE and the INMO, to address the overcrowding issue. Its first meeting was on Monday.