3 January 2022
By Elaine Murphy
Over 70,275 patients went without a bed in Irish hospitals in 2021, according to figures published today by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
The union has branded this year’s figures as an “unacceptable rise in overcrowding while we know this adds to the spread of COVID-19 in our hospitals”. This comes as the INMO’s figures show an increase of 31% patients on trolleys compared to the first year of the pandemic.
The hospitals with the highest overall figures included:
- University Hospital Limerick:12,108
- Cork University Hospital:7,411
- Letterkenny University Hospital:5,778
- University Hospital Galway:5,027
- Sligo University Hospital: 4,284
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“The fact that we have seen the numbers of patients on trolleys rise by 31% during the second year of a pandemic is completely unacceptable. Hospital overcrowding should never be acceptable, especially when we have a highly transmissible virus.
“Radical action is now needed to curb the unacceptable levels of overcrowding in our hospitals. This is not a new phenomenon; the health service cannot continue to make the same decisions year in year out and expect different outcomes.
“There are immediate short-term requirements that can be taken:
- Increasing care of sick non-emergency patients to the private sector, immediate review of pre- hospital and post discharge care to assist the pressures on acute public hospitals right now and for the next three weeks as predicted
- The full implementation and funding of a nursing and midwifery staffing review
- Increase supports to provide nursing and midwifery led care in the community
“We have a nursing and midwifery workforce that are running on empty. They are looking for some kind of indication from their employer that things will be different this year. The commitment nurses and midwives have shown especially in the last month with the arrival of Omicron has been exemplary. While many staff are on COVID-related sick leave, others are cancelling leave and staying longer than they are rostered to ensure patients are looked after.
“The INMO has raised red flag, after red flag with the HSE and Government. We need to see urgent action by curtailing all non-emergency activity in our public hospitals.”