Numbers on hospital trolleys reach highest level this year, say nurses

INMO reports 679 patients queuing for a bed across the State on Tuesday

Hospital overcrowding on Tuesday reached the highest levels this year and the second-highest level recorded, says the INMO

Hospital overcrowding on Tuesday reached the highest levels this year and the second-highest level recorded, says the INMO


The HSE is planning to provide additional home care packages, more transitional care beds and extra funding for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme in the face of near -record levels of hospital overcrowding.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said there were 679 patients deemed to need admission to hospital waiting for beds on trolleys in emergency departments and on wards.

The HSE on Tuesday evening updated Minister for Health Simon Harris on its plans for dealing with winter pressures on the health service on foot of a special €26 million funding allocation from the Government.

The INMO said the worst-affected hospitals were University Hospital Limerick,where 63 patients were queuing for a bed, and at University Hospital Cork where there were 60 people on trolleys or on wards.

At Letterkenny University Hospital there were 47 patients requiring a bed and at South Tipperary General Hospital there were 40 people waiting on trolleys and on wards.

There were 39 patients waiting for beds at Sligo University Hospital and at University Hospital Waterford.

Mr Harris is to hold talks on the trolley figures with the head of the HSE, Paul Reid, and the chief executives of each hospital group across the country.

A spokeswoman for the Minister said on Tuesday: “The Department of Health has secured €26 million in winter funding to help alleviate the burden on our emergency departments.

“He will be asking each hospital group CEO to outline how the situation has escalated to such a level and how it intends to use the funding made available by the Government to make improvements for patients.”

The highest level of overcrowding recorded by the INMO as part of its trolley-watch initiative was 714 on March 12th, 2018. The highest for 2019 recorded by the union prior to Tuesday was 631.

The INMO said the position of South Tipperary General was indicative of a hospital in crisis.

It said despite being one of the country’s smaller hospitals, it had more patients on trolleys than some of the largest centres.

The union maintained a lack of capacity and staff in the public health service was the key driver behind the rising overcrowding levels .

The INMO said the HSE had implemented a “go slow” recruitment freeze, which saw well over a 1,000 frontline posts unfilled.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “This is simply obscene. Winter has not even started, and Irish hospitals are overwhelmed. Our members are faced with an inhumane working environment, while patients are put at ever-increasing risk.”

“[A total of] 50,000 people marched to support nurses and midwives during the strike. They did so for an end to short staffing and a better health service. The Government’s delay in implementing the strike settlement, along with the recruitment freeze, has driven more nurses and midwives out of the public health service,” she said.

“It is time for extra emergency staffing, an end to the recruitment ban and for hospitals to curtail services until safe patient and staff levels are reached.”