Trolley crisis: 432 on a Friday is a disaster, says INMO

Nurses’ group says overcrowding is getting worse despite fall in number without bed

Under Health Service Executive (HSE) targets, the number of patients on trolleys in the State on a given day is not supposed to exceed 236. File photograph: Frank Miller

The number of patients stuck waiting on trolleys dropped to 432 on Friday, down from a record high of 612 last week, according to the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

However, INMO warns the figure was a “disaster for a Friday” and the crisis was worsening.

The numbers show the three hospitals worst affected are in counties Dublin, Cork and Waterford.

The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin had 28 people waiting in hospital emergency departments for admission to a bed, Cork University Hospital also had 28, and University Hospital Waterford had 26.


Under Health Service Executive (HSE) targets, the number of patients on trolleys in the State on a given day is not supposed to exceed 236.

David Hughes from the INMO said the figures were "disastrous" as it meant a lot of people would be forced to wait more than 24 hours for a bed.

“And some even longer. Four hundred and thirty-two on a Friday is a disaster because what happens is that most of those people will not be discharged so you will be already full for the entire weekend and on Monday it will go up again,” he said.

“It’s not getting any better, it’s getting worse. That figure is worse than last Friday.”

Mr Hughes said the problem was that the health service was “chronically short” of nurses.

“We’re about 3,300 nurses short. The demand for health services has grown 20 per cent since 2008,” he said.

“The nurses that are there are burning out because of the pressures of all of this. There is so much pressure that their health is breaking down at this stage.

“And that’s why they voted by 90 per cent to take industrial action unless something seriously is done to improve the staffing.”

“The trolley crisis last week prompted the HSE to announce it was opening dozens of extra hospital beds.

“Announcements are one thing and getting beds is another thing. When you get the beds you have to have to get the staff.”


Minister of State for Training and Skills John Halligan said the high figures were distressing but the Minister for Health Simon Harris recognised the scale of the problem.

"Efforts are being done to deal with it," he told RTÉ News at One.

“For anybody to think there is a callousness associated with any Minister for Health . . . that’s not the case because I know he is stressed with this.

HSE management met the INMO on Thursday for talks aimed at averting threatened industrial action over recruitment and retention of nurses.

The parties are to hold further talks on January 23rd.

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is Digital Features Editor and journalist with The Irish Times