MORE than 12,000 patients were left waiting for beds in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) during 2021, making it the most overcrowded hospital in the country.
Figures published earlier today by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 70, 725 patients had to wait for beds in Irish hospitals last year with UHL consistently topping the list for most patients lying on trolleys.
This represents a 31 per cent increase in the number of patients on trolleys since the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The INMO described the figures as an “unacceptable rise in overcrowding which adds to the spread of Covid in hospitals”.
The hospitals with the highest overall figures were University Hospital Limerick (12,108); Cork University Hospital (7,411);Letterkenny University Hospital (5,778); University Hospital Galway (5,027) and Sligo University Hospital (4,284).
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the fact that the number of patients on trolleys rise had risen by 31 percent during the second year of a pandemic was completely unacceptable.
“Hospital overcrowding should never be acceptable, especially when we have a highly transmissible virus,” she declared.
“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”.
Among the immediate short-term measures she suggested was the transfer of sick non-emergency patients to the private sector along with an immediate review of pre- hospital and post discharge care to assist the pressures on acute public hospitals for the next three weeks.
She also called for the full implementation and funding of the of nursing and midwifery staffing review as well as increased supports for 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,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha explained.
“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,” she concluded.