8,000 people on hospital trolleys in August; up 27% on 2016 figures

Almost 8,000 patients were admitted to hospital on trolleys in August, an increase of 27% on the same period last year.

8,000 people on hospital trolleys in August; up 27% on 2016 figures

In August 2016, 6,136 people were admitted on trolleys — this August that figure had risen to 7,781.

In the full year to date, 65,455 people have been admitted for care on trolleys, a rise of 7% on 2016.

The trolley watch figures were released yesterday by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) to coincide with a meeting of the national emergency department implementation group.

The hospitals which experienced the highest levels of overcrowding in August were University Hospital Limerick, which exceeded its bed capacity by 835 patients, and University Hospital, Galway, which exceeded its capacity by 643.

Cork University Hospital admitted 457 more patients than capacity allows.

The INMO called for the implementation of all emergency measures identified in the taskforce report launched in 2015.

The measures include giving nurse managers full autonomy to recruit additional staff, therefore ensuring that patient care standards are maintained.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the mere setting of targets has not improved hospital overcrowding.

“It is clear that setting of targets, whether they be for patients over 75, patients waiting to be seen, or patients waiting for a decision to admit or discharge has not had any positive effect upon the management of the overcrowding crisis,” he said.

“The monitoring and reporting of the targets has now become the priority for management rather than the actions necessary to protect patients and frontline staff.”

Mr Doran said the record figures should see the Government treating the situation as a national emergency.

“Management, at all levels, must implement the actions detailed in the taskforce report on a 24/7 basis and treat this crisis as a national emergency,” he said.

There was also a strong political reaction to yesterday’s trolley watch figures.

Co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall said home care packages need to be properly resourced.

“In the short term, the priority must be to free up beds caused by delayed discharges,” said Ms Shortall.

“The latest HSE Performance Report shows that 600 beds are occupied inappropriately. These include many older people waiting for home care packages or nursing home places.

“Properly resourcing home care packages and supports would enable older people to leave hospitals — that would be good for them, but it would also work for the wider interests of all patients as it would free up more beds,” she added.

Ms Shortall said that in order to end the annual trolley crisis “once and for all,” the Government must get beyond “quick fixes.”

The Labour Party’s health spokesman, Alan Kelly, called on Health Minister Simon Harris to publish a plan to address the severe overcrowding.

“At the very least, Minister Harris should be announcing this week his plans for the winter period,” said Mr Kelly.

“We cannot have a situation like last year where there was no plan in place for the winter flu epidemic causing a crisis in our hospitals.”

Editorial: 10

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