Number of people on hospital trolleys ‘already exceeds’ 100,000 for year

Fórsa union warns HSE over plan to reduce number of health service managers

More than 100,000 people spent a period waiting on trolleys in emergency departments on wards so far this year waiting for a hospital bed, according to the the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The union said the centre worst affected was University Hospital Limerick where 11,901 people had to wait for a bed at some stage this year.

Overall the INMO said 100,457 patients had gone without beds in Irish hospitals in 2019 so far this year.

Some 934 children under 16 were among those deemed to require admission to hospital but who had to wait for a bed.

“Today is only the second time that annual figures have ever passed 100,000. The milestone was reached faster this year than before: in 2018 it took until 28 November,” the INMO said.

At Cork University Hospital 9,496 people had to wait for beds this year, at University Hospital Galway 6,870, at South Tipperary General Hospital 6,040 and at University Hospital Waterford 5,522.

The INMO said that on Monday there were 593 patients deemed to require admission to hospital waiting for a bed on trolleys in emergency department and on wards across the country.

The union’s general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the Irish health service continued to break records in the worst possible way.

“This simply does not happen in other countries. The only acceptable number for patients on trolleys is zero.

“Behind each number is a vulnerable patient trapped in undignified and unsafe conditions, often on a corridor. Our members are working incredibly hard, but our health service clearly does not have sufficient capacity to cope.

“It’s simply a question of capacity and staffing. The HSE’s recruitment freeze simply has to go: we need an infusion of qualified, frontline staff to stabilise the health service. Without it, this problem will rapidly accelerate as we move into winter.”

Separately on Monday the trade union Fórsa expressed concern about plans by the HSE to put in place a "targeted" redundancy scheme for mangers in the health service.

Fórsa said it had written HSE chief Paul Reid to say it expected any proposed redundancy arrangements to conform to public service agreements.

The Irish Times reported last month that the size of the HSE at central level is to be scaled back and it will have fewer staff in future on foot of new reforms to establish six regional health organisations.

Mr Reid said in an interview with the Sunday Business Post that he would initiate a “targeted and strategic” redundancy scheme early next year.

Fórsa 's head of health Eamon Donnelly said : "In his interview, Mr Reid put forward no evidence-based rationale for claiming there are too many managers and admin staff , and it is disappointing to see the head of the organisation taking to the media to criticise staff in this way."

“By any measure, redundancies are significant, both for the ‘targeted’ staff and those left to take up the workload. Fórsa fully expects (the HSE) to conduct business that directly affects workers’ terms and conditions through agreed industrial relations processes,” he said.

Mr Donnelly said the union had offered to meet Mr Reid on the issue.

“The last time the HSE offered voluntary redundancies, it was left with significant holes in corporate knowledge, including in key and senior roles. It then had to fill the gaps by hiring more managers.”