Nurses warn on bed closures after 541 patients on trolleys yesterday

There were 541 patients on trolleys yesterday waiting for a hospital bed, and there are fears the situation could become critical if nurses vote for industrial action.

The result of a ballot of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s (IMNO) 40,000 members is expected later this week over staff shortages and pay.

The INMO, which counted the 541 admitted patients on trolleys yesterday, found the total was 63% higher than the same day last year when there were 331.

University Hospital Cork and University Hospital Galway had the highest trolley figures — each had 48 people waiting for admission to beds.

There were 36 patients awaiting admission at University Hospital Waterford.

St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin had 34 patients on trolleys.

However, the number of patients on wards waiting for a bed was not available.

The INMO said the situation was exacerbated with 180 acute beds closed across the country, mainly due to the inability of the HSE to recruit nurses to staff them.

INMO members in Cavan General Hospital and Mayo General Hospital staged lunchtime protest over staffing levels.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said emergency measures must be introduced immediately to reduce overcrowding.

He said yesterday’s trolley total had to be viewed by everyone as totally unacceptable.

According to the nurses’ organisation, there are currently 140 staff nurse vacancies in emergency departments — a vacancy rate of almost 10%.

The INMO wants planned admissions cancelled or deferred and have senior clinical staff rostered so hospitals are covered from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

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