OVER 7,832 patients, including 138 children, went without a bed in Irish hospitals this July according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s TrolleyWatch figures.
At Letterkenny University Hospital, 272 patients were on trolleys in July – that figure was down compared to last year when 360 patients were on trolleys.
TrolleyWatch figures show 72,391 patients have gone without a bed in 2023, a 10% increase in the same time period in 2022.
The INMO has warned that the HSE must view this as a indication of what is now inevitable this winter and must act accordingly.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said, “The fact that we have seen over 7,832 patients on trolleys in July is a red flag warning for the autumn and winter ahead.
“The HSE must set out very clearly what measures it intends to take to reduce the levels of overcrowding in our hospitals in the coming months.
“Over 72,391 patients have been on trolleys so far this year, a ten per cent increase on the same period last year, this is a bleak sign heading into the winter months.
“It has been reported that the Cabinet has signed off on a year-round plan for the HSE, the INMO will be now seeking details of the staff support measures it contains as staff cannot be expected to just endure these conditions for another winter.
“Last week, HIQA published inspection reports into some of Ireland’s busiest hospitals.
“They show that there is a pattern emerging across the vast majority of hospitals that unsafe levels of staffing is compromising both patient and staff safety. Safe staffing underpinned by legislation must go hand-in-hand with any plan produced to tackle year-round overcrowding.”
“As the HSE and individual hospital groups prepare for winter, infection control measures must be assessed ahead of predictable winter infection surges. We have already seen hospitals such as University Hospital Kerry review their mask-wearing and visitor policies because of infection outbreaks in July. A dynamic infection control plan is needed across all hospital sites as airborne viruses will no doubt play a major factor in hospital overcrowding in the months ahead.”
INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations for the Midwest and West, Mary Fogarty said: “Over 23% of patients on trolleys in July were treated in University Hospital Limerick.
“The level of persistent overcrowding is a serious concern for nurses at UHL.
“The INMO has raised the concerns of our members again this week with senior management who were not in a position to provide any plan as to how the hospital will manage the winter months. The volume of patients on trolleys at UHL this summer is excessively high in comparison to other acute hospitals nationwide.
“All in-patient wards are overcrowded along with the Emergency Department leading to poor outcomes for patients and work-related stress for nurses who have to constantly work in an overcrowded workplace. Care is being compromised for patients in University Hospital Limerick because of severe nursing deficits, with over 48 vacant posts (35% vacancy rate) in the Emergency Department,” Ms Fogarty.