Worst ever July for hospital overcrowding

It was the worst ever July for hospital overcrowding, with 9,439 admitted patients waiting for a bed, according to the latest monthly analysis from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

Worst ever July for hospital overcrowding

- with reporting from Stephen Maguire

It was the worst ever July for hospital overcrowding, with 9,439 admitted patients waiting for a bed, according to the latest monthly analysis from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The number of admitted patients waiting for a hospital bed increased by a third during this month compared to July 2018, and among them were 45 children.

INMO director of industrial relations, Tony Fitzpatrick, pointed out that the number of affected patients in July this year was almost three times what it was in 2006.

There were 3,460 patients on trolleys in July 2006, the same year the then Minister for Health, Mary Harney, declared a national emergency.

Mr Fitzpatrick said there were over 700 patients who had finished their acute hospital treatment but could not be discharged.

And, he said, hundreds of nursing and midwifery posts remained unfilled because of the HSE's “dysfunctional and bureaucratic” employment control processes.

“Vital roles across all services, at all grades, in all hospitals are left unfilled. This has direct negative consequences for patients,” he said.

We expect increased demands on the health service in winter, but now even summer sees patients crammed into corridors on trolleys. It is creating unacceptable risks for patients and health workers alike.

Mr Fitzpatrick said additional bed capacity was needed together with the lifting of the employment embargo on frontline nursing and midwifery posts.

The analysis shows that the hospitals with the highest numbers were University Hospital Limerick with 1,293 and Cork University hospital, with 1,079.

Mr Fitzpatrick said UHL used the full capacity protocol all the time – the placing of extra trolleys in inpatient wards - to deal with overcrowding in its emergency department.

He said the number of admitted patients in the EDs in UHL and CUH was the equivalent of two full inpatient wards.

“That is extremely stressful for the staff working in that environment and it is not conducive to the delivery of quality care to patients,” he said.

This morning alone, the INMO said University Hospital Limerick had 64 patients on trolleys and Cork University Hospital had 58.

Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients Association said he had many patients contacting him over the summer with "horror stories" about the conditions they had to endure in EDs.

The HSE said it regretted that any patients should have to wait for admission from the ED to a hospital bed.

It pointed out that year to date ED attendances at the end of June were 4.4% higher when compared to last year.

There were 119,610 patient attendances recorded in 29 public hospitals' EDs in June, with 32,295 admitted to hospital for further treatment.

Meanwhile, the HSE has urged patients not to attend Letterkenny University Hospital in Co Donegal unless they need emergency care.

The hospital is extremely busy this week and many admitted patients had to wait for a bed in the ED.

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