Limerick worst hit by trolley crowding

There were 649 patients on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards waiting for a hospital bed yesterday, a decrease of just 65 on Monday’s record high of 714.

Limerick worst hit by trolley crowding

The figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association show that University Hospital Limerick was yet again the worst affected by severe overcrowding, with 58 patients waiting.

Cork University Hospital had 56 patients waiting for a bed, the second highest number followed by St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, which had 40.

The overall number of admitted patients waiting for a hospital bed is up 28% on the 506 waiting on the same day last year.

According to the HSE’s TrolleyGAR that only records patients on trolleys in EDs, there were 463 waiting for a hospital bed, a 15% increase in waiters on the same day last year.

There were 221 patients waiting over nine hours and 59 waiting over 24 hours.

According to the HSE, the Mercy University Hospital in Cork had the highest number of patients on trolleys, with 32.

Mercy University Hospital Cork
Mercy University Hospital Cork

St Vincents University Hospital in Dublin had 29 patients on trolleys in its ED, the second highest number, followed by Galway University Hospital which had 28.

The HSE’s director of emergency management, Damien McCallion, said they were still dealing with backlogs caused by Storm Emma.

Before the storm, patients attending EDs were 8% (15,000) up on last year and that was putting hospitals under significant pressure.

Last week, following the snow period, hospitals were reporting even further increases in hospital attendances.

While he expected pressure to ease on EDs this week, hospitals would remain under pressure in the weeks ahead because of St Patrick’s weekend and Easter.

The chair of the National Association of General Practitioners, Dr Andy Jordan, said a 38% reduction in funding for medical card patients was contributing to hospital overcrowding.

Dr Jordan, who was speaking on RTÉ radio, said some patients did not have a GP to attend and were forced to go to a hospital.

He said Ireland had one of the lowest number of GPs per capita in the 35 member countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“When the GP has shut up his premises and no longer exists in a village, well then the patient doesn’t have too many options,” said Dr Jordan.

“In terms of primary care and general practice, we have just made a total mess of it.”

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

The Labour Party’s health spokesman, Alan Kelly, said the high trolley figures “raises obvious questions about the lack of forward planning to deal with the inevitable increase in demand for hospital services following Storm Emma”.

Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien said there appeard to be “no urgency” from the Government to address the trolley crisis.

“This is in spite of the fact that nearly every single day there are enough patients to completely fill a level 4 hospital,” he said.

“For example, there are 649 patients on trolleys in hospitals throughout the State today. That’s enough people on trolleys to fill the Mater Hospital.

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