Patients on chairs overnight due to lack of trolleys, nurses report

At least 12 patients were cared for on chairs overnight at University Hospital Limerick due to a lack of trolleys, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.

The organisation reported over 80 admitted patients without beds at the hospital today in “the highest figure recorded in an Irish hospital since the Covid-19 restrictions began.”

The union said the HSE’s stated “no tolerance” policy for overcrowding during the Covid-19 pandemic was “clearly being broken, along with social distancing guidelines, placing staff and patients at risk.”

This would be an exceptionally high level of overcrowding in normal times. With Covid, the infection risk to staff and patients goes through the roof.

INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Limerick, Mary Fogarty, said: “The hospital is in a chronic state of overcrowding this morning. There are admitted patients on chairs – as there aren’t even enough trolleys anymore.

“This would be an exceptionally high level of overcrowding in normal times. With Covid, the infection risk to staff and patients goes through the roof.

“Frontline staff are doing the best they can, but this is a crisis that is not going away in Limerick. Nurses are rightly describing the ongoing situation as dangerous.

“The Minister and HSE cannot stand idly by. They need to intervene nationally to put a clear, workable plan in place.”

INMO has called for urgent intervention from the Minister for Health as it said 277 patients were currently without beds across Ireland’s hospitals at lunchtime, including 35 at Sligo University Hospital and 23 at Mayo University Hospital.

It has asked for the immediate appointment of an external crisis management team to oversee governance at the Limerick hospital, with a plan to increase bed capacity and recruit new staff.