by Kathy Masterson
A TOTAL of 1,268 patients were recorded on trolleys in the month of July at University Hospital Limerick, representing the highest rate of hospital overcrowding nationwide.
The Dooradoyle hospital recorded an overcrowding rate of 27 per cent higher than the next busiest facility at University Hospital Cork, however the latest INMO report shows some improvements for the region.
There was a 31 per cent decrease in the number of patients waiting on trolleys since June, with 569 fewer patients in the Mid West waiting on a bed in July.
The figures also represent a marginal decrease on pre-pandemic levels, as more than 1,300 patients were recorded on trolleys in UHL in 2019.
Nationally, there was a 52 per cent increase in patients waiting on trolleys from July 2021.
Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Director of Professional Services Tony Fitzpatrick warned that the level of hospital overcrowding seen throughout this summer “has been a cause of serious concern”.
“Unless we see a hospital-by-hospital plan to tackle overcrowding, we are in for a very bleak winter in Irish hospitals which will see nurses and patients in extremely unsafe circumstances,” Mr Fitzpatrick continued.
He warned that Ireland needs to heed the warnings from colleagues in Australia, when it comes to mitigating the impact of both flu and Covid-19 in Irish hospitals over the coming months.
“We cannot afford to have a Covid and flu ‘twindemic’ in Irish hospitals this winter. Vaccinations for both Covid and flu should be offered to healthcare workers as soon as possible,” he added.
Mr Fitzpatrick added that nurses and other healthcare staff cannot be expected to sustain “this type of pressure” into the winter.
“If the Government and HSE are serious about retaining those who already work in the health service, meaningful action must be taken to ensure safe care conditions for both patients and staff.
“No nurse wants to have to care for patients in sub-optimal conditions,” he concluded.