CUH was the third most overcrowded hospital in the country last month.

INMO: Unity needed to tackle overcrowding

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is now calling for the public and private healthcare systems to act as one to tackle hospital overcrowding.

Last month, University Hospital Limerick was at the top of the pile for overcrowding with 1,358 patients forced to wait on trolleys. Letterkenny University Hospital was the second worst with 1,067 and CUH was third worst with 726.

Overall, according to the latest INTO TrolleyWatch figures for the month of November, 8,317 patients were on trolleys versus 3,934 in November 2020.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that, despite calls from the HSE Chief Executive for hospitals to cancel elective procedures, there has been a relatively high number of people on trolleys for the month of November.

She said: “Yet again, University Hospital Limerick, Letterkenny University Hospital and CUH have the highest number of patients on trolleys. This is a consistent problem in these areas. We need to see bespoke plans from management on how they plan to tackle this problem as we enter the winter months.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the country is now at a stage where we need all of our health services including public and private to be acting as one.

“The public service is under too much pressure to be expected to shoulder the entire burden of the pandemic. This is the time for private hospitals to step up and be fully involved with this public health emergency. The need to make profit must be secondary at this time,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.

With trolley numbers continuing to rise compared to 2020 and new variants entering the country, the INTO says its nurses and midwives are already mentally and physically exhausted before winter even begins.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha also highlighted that it is easy to forget that before the first Covid case was recorded in Ireland, nurses were already dealing with chronic overcrowding in hospitals with over 20,000 people on trolleys in the first two months of 2020.

“There needs to be a recognition from the HSE as the employer that the conditions nurses are currently operating in are having an impact on their safety and that of the patient,” she concluded.