Hospital trolleys: 668 awaiting admission to hospital bed on Tuesday

Government-commissioned report advises the current health system is not fit for purpose

There were 668 people on hospital trolleys and on wards awaiting admission to a hospital bed on Tuesday as a Government-commissioned report advised that the current health system was not fit for purpose.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s (INMO) trolley watch reached its second highest figure on record as Minister for Health Simon Harris published a bed-capacity review which examined the challenges facing the health system over the coming years.

It says that patient safety will be at further risk if reforms to the health service are not implemented quickly. Without reform it advises that 7,000 acute hospital beds, 12,000 residential care beds and a 37 per cent increase in the workforce would be required.

If the Government accelerates the pace of the proposed all-party Sláintecare reforms, 2,600 extra acute hospital beds will be required, the review says.


A 50 per cent increase in the primary care workforce, including approximately 1,000 extra GPs, 1,200 extra practice nurses and 1,100 extra public health nurses, will be needed, as will an additional 13,000 residential care beds.

The report was carried out by the Department of Health to address the capacity of the health service between now and 2031. It concludes “significant investment across all health services over the coming 15-year period is required in tandem with a fundamental programme of reform”.

It said occupancy rates are running close to 100 per cent across the hospital system, posing a legitimate risk to patient safety. Waiting times across the system were at unacceptably high levels requiring additional acute bed capacity.

Highest number

The INMO figures for Tuesday showed the highest number of people awaiting a bed (60) were at University Hospital Limerick. Next was St Vincent's in Dublin, where there were 45 people on trolleys, followed by Cork University Hospital (42) and Letterkenny General Hospital (39).

The number of patients on trolleys reached a record high of 677 on January 3rd.

The INMO welcomed the bed-capacity review report and Mr Harris’s acknowledgement that investment and reform must go hand in hand if the cycle of hospital overcrowding was to be broken.