Number of patients on hospital trolleys hits 668

There were 668 patients on trolleys in emergency department or on wards waiting for a bed yesterday — the same day that a report warned that 2,600 beds are needed to break the cycle of hospital overcrowding.

The number on trolleys and on wards yesterday was just shy of the record 677 noted earlier this month by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The latest count shows that University Hospital Limerick was the worst affected with 60 waiting.

The Health Service Capacity Review, published by Health Minister Simon Harris, states that Ireland’s acute hospital occupancy levels are around 95%, which is far more than the international norm of 85%.

The occupancy levels mean that at times of peak demand, such as that being experienced currently, hospitals have extremely limited available “surge” capacity and the report calls for this to be addressed in the short term.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Health, also recommends a 50% increase in the primary care workforce; 13,000 extra residential care beds; and a 120% increase in home care packages and home help hours.

The minister said the review’s findings are broadly consistent with a separate analysis of future demand for health care undertaken by the Economic and Social Research Institute last year and gave a clear indication of the extent of demand increases to expect.

“This report, which was internationally peer-reviewed, provides us with a very important evidence base, which will inform future investment and policy decisions,” said Mr Harris.

The HSE’s TrolleyGAR recorded 514 adult patients on trolleys in emergency departments yesterday — a 28% increase on the 401 waiting last year.

There were 250 people waiting more than nine hours for a bed, and 57 were waiting more than 24 hours.

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