Trolley numbers in hospitals across the country are reaching crisis level as Winter closes in.

Record trolley numbers as winter approaches

The alarmingly high number of people currently on hospital trolleys is a warning sign for a difficult winter ahead as MUH experiences record overcrowding.

That’s according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives organisation (INMO) whose latest Trolleywatch figures show that numbers almost doubled this October when compared to the same period last year.

The INMO said it has seen more patients on trolleys this October in all of Ireland’s three children’s hospitals than any other October and that its figures show that there were five times as many children on trolleys compared to October 2020.

Nineteen hospitals nationwide have seen their trolley figures double compared to October 2020.

The INMO said it has seen record overcrowding for the month of October in Letterkenny University Hospital, University Hospital Kerry, Mayo University Hospital and Mercy University Hospital.

The organisation said 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, the INMO has counted 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.

CUH had the fourth most people waiting on trolleys in October with 688. University Hospital Galway had 829, University Hospital Letterkenny had 943 and University Hospital Limerick had 1,369.

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.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said urgent action is now needed to ensure that patient-facing healthcare workers have every protection possible to keep them safe as infection numbers reach the high numbers seen earlier this year.

“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,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.

She added: “If the HSE is planning to cancel electives then this decision needs to be taken now, not when the crisis is unmanageable.”

The INMO is now calling for funding to implement the Safe-Staffing Framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse-to-patient ratio after receiving reports of instances as extreme as one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward.