Fewer patients on trolleys despite rise in emergencies

There has been a reduction in the number of patients on trolleys awaiting a hospital bed, even with more people attending emergency departments, according to the HSE.

The number of people attending emergency departments has increased by an average of 8.7% compared to last year, while there was a 2.2% reduction in the number of patients on trolleys awaiting admission.

There were 155,148 emergency department attendances from January 1 to February 18, an increase of 12,463 on the same period last year. According to the HSE’s TrolleyGAR, the number of patients on trollies fell from 16,503 to 16,141 over the corresponding period.

A meeting of the Emergency Department Taskforce Implementation Group yesterday heard that, but for significant efforts made at winter planning, the trolley numbers could have been much greater.

“Efforts remain ongoing to open beds, reduce delayed discharges, and provide supports in the community to deal with the increased demand,” the HSE said afterwards.

To date, 220 extra beds have been opened and a further 111 closed beds have also reopened. There has been a surge in the number of people over 65 attending emergency departments in recent weeks when flu has been circulating widely.

In January 18,914 people over 65 attended emergency departments, a 10% rise on the 17,127 who attended in the same month last year.

More than half of older people who attend emergency departments need to be admitted to hospital, compared to 30% of the general population, and they tend to have longer lengths of stay.

Pressure on hospitals continued yesterday with 511 patients on trolleys in emergency departments and on wards, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The HSE’s own count put the number of patients on trolleys at 431, with 186 waiting more than nine hours at 8am yesterday.

The situation was described as ‘system red’. At 2pm there were 307 on trolleys, with 208 waiting more than nine hours, according to the HSE tally, with the situation again described as ‘system red’.

The INMO’s Trolley and Ward Watch had 379 patients on trolleys in emergency departments and 132 on wards awaiting admission to a bed. While St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin was the worst affected, with 48 patients on trolleys in the emergency department, it was not in a position to provide a ward figure.

Cork University Hospital, had the second highest number of patients on trolleys, with 43 — 33 in the emergency department and 10 on wards.


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