Record overcrowding in country's worst-hit hospitals

ireland
Record Overcrowding In Country's Worst-Hit Hospitals Record Overcrowding In Country's Worst-Hit Hospitals
The figures come as four nurses in University Hospital Galway have quit, due to conditions in the hospital’s temporary emergency department.
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James Cox

Five hospitals have had their worst ever September for overcrowding this month, new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show.

Cork University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital (Cork), University Hospital Kerry, Letterkenny University Hospital, and Portiuncula Hospital have all seen more patients on trolleys this September than any other year.

The figures come as four nurses in University Hospital Galway have quit, due to conditions in the hospital’s temporary emergency department.

Overcrowding figures reached record lows in 2019 and 2020 due to the pandemic response, but the INMO is warning that many hospitals are “rapidly returning to the bad old days of overcrowding”.

There were 12 times as many patients on trolleys in Letterkenny University Hospital this month compared with September 2020 (821 vs 66). In University Hospital Galway, there were nearly 40 times as many (805 vs 21).

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Many other hospitals have more than doubled the number of patients on trolleys since September 2020, including St James’s Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Wexford General Hospital, MRH Portlaoise, Cavan General and OLH Navan.

Overall, it is the second worst ever September for overcrowding in Ireland, with 8,414 on trolleys in September 2021. The worst-ever September was in 2019, with 10,641 on trolleys.

The hospitals with the highest numbers of patients on trolleys this month were:

  • Cork University Hospital: 1,094
  • University Hospital Limerick: 1,090
  • University Hospital Letterkenny: 821
  • University Hospital Galway: 805
  • University Hospital Kerry: 422

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Our members are sounding the alarm across the country. We are rapidly returning to the bad old days of overcrowding. COVID remains a significant threat and winter is fast approaching.

“At the start of the pandemic, the HSE said there would be zero tolerance of overcrowding. An air of complacency is allowing the problem to return in force.

“Over the coming weeks we need to see planned funding for the implementation of safe staffing across the health service, and we need to see a detailed winter plan from the HSE. The risks here are clear and there is just no excuse for not being prepared.

“We have called for an immediate meeting with the most senior officials in the HSE.”

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