More than 2,200 patients left waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick in February

University Hospital Limerick

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick (UHL) has again topped national rankings for the number for admitted patients waiting on trolleys for an in-patient bed, with figures for the month of February surpassing 2,000.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives (INMO) Trolley Watch  figures, there were 2,247 patients waiting on trolleys and in overflow wards during February after being admitted to hospital through the UHL Emergency Department (ED).

The INMO has reported now that the number of staff in Irish hospitals planning to vote with their feet and leave is “worryingly high”.

The next highest figure in the trolley table for February was Cork University Hospital, where there were 1,070 patients left waiting across the month.

The figure at UHL for this year marks a large increase on the same month in 2023, when there were 1,561 patients recorded on trolleys.

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The news comes after it was revealed that the overcrowding escalation policy was implemented at UHL every single day last year.

Nationally there were almost 11,000 patients waiting for a bed in February.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that “the levels of overcrowding this month have not diminished since the St Brigid’s Day Bank Holiday”.

“With two bank holidays happening in quick succession in March, the HSE must outline what steps they are taking in the run up to St Patrick’s Day to ensure we don’t have a repeat of February overcrowding.

“Since the end of January, I have been in the majority of hospitals that the INMO counts trolleys in and have witnessed dangerous scenes in many hospitals with patients being treated in completely inappropriate spaces.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha added that the number of nurses now reporting their”intention to leave, whether to retire early, move abroad, or move to another position in the community or private sector, is worryingly high.

“The morale of our members is on the floor and many feel a sense of helplessness when it comes to being able to carry out their roles to the high levels they have been trained to.”

The INMO general secretary continued that that directors of nursing and midwifery are now saying population growth has not been factored in to hospital plans, particularly around staffing, nor has increased daily activity, “and they will not be able to stand over levels of care due to the recruitment freeze”.

“If we are going to have any hope of turning things around for our public health service, safe staffing must be the number one priority, nothing less will do.”