31 October 2021
By Mary Bermingham
The monthly Trolleywatch figures compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives organisation show that numbers of patients on trolleys have almost doubled this October when compared to the same time period in 2020.
We have seen more patients on trolleys this October in all of three of the children’s hospitals than any other October. Our figures show that there five times as many children on trolleys compared to October 2020.
Nineteen hospitals have seen their trolley figures double compared to October 2020. We have also seen record overcrowding for the month of October in Letterkenny University Hospital, University Hospital Kerry, Mayo University Hospital and Mercy University Hospital.
There is cause for particular concern in St.Vincent’s University Hospital, University Hospital Tipperary, University Hospital Galway and Ennis Hospital which has seen their trolley numbers increase ten-fold compared to last year.
Overall, we have seen 54,456 people on trolleys so far this year compared to 45,038 people on trolleys in the same time period in 2020. This rapid rise in trolley numbers is of grave concern to the INMO,
The hospitals with the highest numbers of patients on trolleys this month were:
University Hospital Limerick: 1,369
University Hospital Letterkenny: 943
University Hospital Galway: 829
Cork University Hospital: 688
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“This month’s trolley figures are an indication of what lies ahead for patients and staff in our health service if action is not taken. These figures come in the backdrop of rapidly increasing COVID cases, increased hospitalisations and an increased number of nurses and midwives becoming infected with COVID-19.
“We urgently need to see action on ensuring that patient-facing healthcare workers have every protection possible to keep them safe as infection numbers are reaching the high numbers we saw earlier this year. We must see a recommendation from NIAC tomorrow on extending the vaccine booster to healthcare workers.
“At the start of the pandemic, the HSE said there would be zero tolerance of overcrowding. Our hospitals are no longer just full, they are overcrowded and we have not seen any detailed plan from the HSE in terms of winter planning. Winter is no longer a time coming down the tracks, it is already here. We are calling on the HSE and Minister Donnelly to outline in detail this week what exactly they are planning for the months ahead and what capacity will be made available from the private sector.
“If the HSE is planning to cancel electives then this decision needs to be taken now, not when the crisis is unmanageable.
“We need funding to implement the Safe-Staffing Framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse-to-patient ratio. Just like we have a pupil-teacher ratio that advises on the optimum number of children in a classroom to one teacher. We are hearing examples in our hospitals of one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward. This is not a safe environment for the nurse or patients.
“We know that is going to be a difficult period ahead for patient-facing staff. We cannot allow a situation where we have a repeat of trolley numbers that we saw in 2019. Trolley numbers cannot be allowed to continue to rise when we are still trying to contend with COVID-19 and all the implications it has on nurses and midwives. The HSE must take immediate action.”