Nurses may take industrial action later this month to highlight continuing overcrowding in emergency departments.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has claimed overcrowding last month was 40% higher than in August of last year.
The INMO executive council will meet next Tuesday to agree on a campaign that may include a series of simultaneous work stoppages for limited periods across a number of hospitals.
“If the current trend continues we will have the worse levels of overcrowding recorded this winter,” said INMO general secretary, Liam Doran, yesterday.
Liam Doran, INMO general secretary
“What has been done to date, however welcome, has failed completely to stop the crisis,” said Mr Doran, who said there were 382 people on trolleys yesterday.
Leo Varadkar, the health minister, said it was clear additional staff, beds, and finance had not yet reduced hospital overcrowding. He said he would reconvene the Emergency Department Task-force Implementation Group soon to discuss what more could be done.
The INMO found that, in August, 6,518 admitted patients were left on trolleys — a 40% rise on August 2014.
“This 40% increase, year-on-year, continues the very disturbing trend, all through 2015, which has seen overcrowding increase every month when compared to the same month in 2014,” it stated yesterday.
Hospitals enduring the greatest levels of overcrowding last month were:
The INMO has warned the situation will get worse unless additional bed capacity, both acute and continuing care, is introduced.
Mr Doran said August was the 14th month in a row when, year-on-year, the level of overcrowding had deepened with patient care compromised on a daily basis as a result. He said the Government must accept the request for additional funding made recently by the HSE to allow the health service meet existing demand in a quality assured and patient sensitive manner.
However, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin, has said the €1.9bn in extra funding requested by the HSE next year is unrealistic.
The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) is concerned that with a general election looming hospital management are coming under significant pressure to improved their scheduled care performance.
IAEM spokesman Feargal Hickey said increasing scheduled care to reduce waiting lists would result in more people waiting even longer on trolleys because there would be fewer beds available. Dr Hickey said current inefficiencies were costing more money in the long run because patients left on trolleys for long periods tended to stay longer and were less likely to be able to return home.
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