This month was the worst October on record for hospital overcrowding with 9,055 admitted patients forced to wait for a bed on trolleys and chairs.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the number of patients waiting for a bed had been over twice as bad as when its Trolley Watch began in 2006.
University Hospital Limerick had 1,045 patients on trolleys, the highest in the country. It was equivalent to Limerick’s total bed capacity twice over.
Five hospitals had over 500 patients on trolleys during October.
- University Hospital Galway: 716.
- Cork University Hospital: 647.
- Letterkenny University Hospital: 572.
- Mater University Hospital, Dublin: 519.
- University Hospital Waterford: 512.
The INMO said it was also worried about overcrowding in a number of smaller hospitals. South Tipperary General Hospital had 472 patients waiting on trolleys over the month — almost three times the hospital’s total bed capacity.
The union blames much of the overcrowding on understaffing caused primarily by unattractively low nursing and midwifery pay levels.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said behind the figures was a lot of hardship endured by patients.
“The negative health impacts of this overcrowding are known, yet this is not addressed as a national priority,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
“The Government accept that we need additional beds but we do not have a plan to tackle this daily problem.
“Opening extra beds requires extra nurses but low pay means there is no immediate prospect of recruiting additional nurses or retaining current ones.”
Labour’s health spokesperson Alan Kelly called on the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris to publish their plans to reduce the number of patients on trolleys during the winter months.
“Not only do sick patients deserve better, but hardworking frontline staff cannot endure another winter of discontent in our hospitals,” he said.
There were 412 admitted patients waiting for beds yesterday morning, according to the INMO’s latest Trolley Watch.
The worst-hit hospitals were:
- University Hospital Limerick: 48.
- Cork University Hospital: 41.
- Sligo University Hospital: 31.
Every morning, INMO members count how many patients are waiting in hospital emergency departments for a bed and how many more are waiting in hospital wards. Patients are often treated on trolleys in corridors, but they may also be on chairs, in waiting rooms, or wherever space is available.
The HSE counts only patients on trolleys in emergency departments. Its TrolleyGAR shows 312 were waiting for a bed yesterday with 100 waiting over nine hours and 29 waiting over 24 hours.