The nursing union’s trolley/ward watch count recorded 9,091 patients who had to wait for an in-patient bed. That is more than twice the figure for the same month in either 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009.
The INMO said University Hospital Limerick with 858 and Cork University Hospital with 826 were the two highest recorded in May.
There were also 92 children on trolleys, waiting for a bed in the three Dublin children’s hospitals,” it said. “These figures show an overall increase of 12% on the same period last year, May 2017 when there were 8,154 admitted patients awaiting a bed and 116% increase from May 2006 when there were 4,214 patients on trolleys.
The INMO also said the figures confirmed that overcrowding was an increasing problem year on year and a feature of patient care throughout the whole 12 months.
“Irish hospitals are constantly overcrowded, working above the recognised safe occupancy level and demand for emergency admissions, even in the peak summer period, continues to grow,” it said.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the union was seeking a total re-look at the national planning process and particularly the Winter Initiative, as solutions to the constant and worsening crisis could not wait for funding injections in late November or January when the escalating problems were out of control.
“We live in a society which expects a long wait, and a lack of privacy and dignity when attending EDs. It is not acceptable,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha. “It is a basic human right that a person deemed as requiring hospital admission is admitted to a suitable bed which is appropriately staffed.
Complacency must be replaced with proactive planning, aimed at correcting, not simply reducing, the numbers to make it look somewhat better.
“In line with the Hiqa recommendations of 2012, the aim must be: Patients never have to experience care on corridors and inappropriate spaces in EDs. These Hiqa recommendations are like a fairy-tale, considering the worsening problems with overcrowding since its report.”