Government urged to re-open 1,300 beds to end hospital trolley crisis

The failures at Tallaght Hospital are destined to be repeated across the country unless the Government rows back on its belief that opening more beds is not financially possible.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) made the prediction after a damning probe by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

The year-long report was drawn up after a 65-year-old man died in the facility’s emergency department in March last year, resulting in a leading coroner describing the unit as “a dangerous place for anybody”.

The key findings include:

* Concerns that patients who were put on trolleys in corridors outside of the emergency department did not have a medic who was responsible for their care;

* Some patients were waiting in the emergency department for 61 hours;

* Four in five patients who were admitted were put on corridor trolleys;

* One in seven emergency department patients in the first six months of 2011 left without being treated.

The report also warned that the scandal was repeated nationwide during a Hiqa context report from last August, with some people waiting 115 hours to be allowed leave and 137 hours to be admitted in other facilities. Reacting to the Tallaght scandal, which he said “occurred before I became minister”, Health Minister James Reilly said he would stop patients being put on corridor trolleys “by the end of this year”.

He said the issue was one of his “gravest concerns” and he will bring in any hospital chief executive who fails to tackle the crisis.

However, INMO industrial relations officer Derek Reilly said the only real way “the spectacle of trolleys on corridors” could be confined to the past was if 1,300 acute hospitals beds were re-opened, including 31 at Tallaght — a move Dr Reilly has rejected.

Mr Reilly said: “The minister must open all closed beds with appropriate staffing levels and, once and for all, put the patient first.”


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