Belfast Telegraph

Hospital overcrowding at record level

The INMO said 760 admitted patients waiting for beds is the worst figure since records began.

Hospital overcrowding in Ireland has reached a record level with 760 admitted patients waiting for beds (Lynne Cameron/PA)
Hospital overcrowding in Ireland has reached a record level with 760 admitted patients waiting for beds (Lynne Cameron/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Hospital overcrowding has reached a record level, with 760 admitted patients waiting for beds, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (Inmo).

The union said it is the worst figure since records began.

The previous record was 714 patients on March 12 2018, during the Beast from the East.

Inmo said the number of patients waiting on trolleys on Monday morning would more than fill Ireland’s largest hospital, St James, which has 707 beds.

University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has also broken the daily record for an individual hospital, with 92 patients on trolleys.

The previous highest figure was 85, also at UHL.

The worst-hit hospitals include:
University Hospital Limerick – 92
Cork University Hospital – 56
University Hospital Galway – 47
South Tipperary General Hospital – 40

Ireland’s beleaguered health service continues to break records in the worst possible way Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Inmo

Inmo is calling for a major incident protocol to be adopted across the country.

This is likely to see all non-emergency admissions halted, elective surgery cancelled, and extra bed capacity sourced from the private and public sectors, it added.

Inmo general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “Ireland’s beleaguered health service continues to break records in the worst possible way. Our members are working in impossible conditions to provide the best care they can.

“The excuse that this is all down to the flu simply doesn’t hold. There are always extra patients in winter, but we simply do not get the extra capacity to cope.

This is entirely predictable, yet we seemingly fail to deal with it every year Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Inmo

“This is entirely predictable, yet we seemingly fail to deal with it every year.

“The Government need to immediately initiate a major incident protocol. We need to cancel elective surgeries, stop non-emergency admissions, and source extra capacity wherever we can.

“We also need to immediately scrap the HSE’s counter-productive recruitment pause, which is leaving these services understaffed and thus overcrowded.

“Behind these numbers are hundreds of individual vulnerable patients – it is a simply shameful situation.

“This is entirely preventable if proper planning was in place.”

It came as the Siptu union said the overcrowding crisis in emergency departments is causing chaos for ambulance professionals.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said: “Siptu representatives are demanding that the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) take immediate and effective action to relieve the immense pressure being experienced by ambulance professionals across the country.

“At the end of November, Siptu representatives requested that the HSE and Department of Health agree a protocol for the handover of patients at emergency departments.

“Unfortunately, our calls were ignored and now we have an unacceptable situation where our members are reporting delays in some cases of between three-and-a-half and seven hours outside emergency departments as our now annual winter overcrowding crisis bites.

“It is outrageous that in 2020 Ireland patients are being treated in the loading bays of hospitals instead of hospital beds.

“This is not what quality patient care looks like, and this kind of chaos is starving communities of a safe and functioning ambulance service, particularly in areas of the west of Ireland and in the midlands.”

The HSE has been asked for a response.

PA

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