Irish hospitals described as "inhumane" as patients waiting on trolleys reaches record high
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is calling it a new national emergency.
The number of people waiting on hospital trolleys has reached a new record high for the second day in a row, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
On its morning trolley count, INMO found 677 patients are waiting for beds today (3 January), after the previous record was set on Tuesday (2 January) when 656 patients were on trolleys.
In Dublin, St. James' and Tallaght Hospitals saw a big overnight increase with a total of 28 entering the former and 23 entering the latter.
The most overcrowded hospitals are currently St. Luke's Hospital Kilkenny with 54 patients waiting on trolleys, followed by University Hospital in Limerick, where there are 53 patients waiting on trolleys.
In the Midlands, Mullingar is reported to have 38, Tullamore has 42 and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda recorded 26 patients waiting on trolleys.
The INMO is currently seeking an emergency meeting of the ED (Emergency Department) Taskforce, while they have also received a number of distressed calls from members describing "intolerable" work conditions and "inhumane" patient conditions.
Commenting on the current crisis, INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, called the current figures "unacceptably high".
“We are very concerned at the level of planning to avoid the situation that has been engaged in some locations and we have sought to meet with the HSE as a matter of urgency. We are awaiting their confirmation that this meeting will take place today, with a view to examining alternative arrangements for hospitals that are simply too overcrowded to continue to accept admissions.
"It is clear that a national emergency is now in place and certain locations simply cannot cope.
"These record numbers are unacceptable. It is intolerable for both patients and staff endeavouring to provide the best care possible to them.”
Ms. Ni Sheaghdha continued: "An increase in a nurse’s workload, by one patient, increases the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7%. High levels of burnout have been reported amongst nurses working overcrowded environments."
Liam Woods, the National Director of Acutes at the HSE, said the recent flu epidemic has resulted in this pressure, saying: "What we are experiencing at the moment across all sites is very high attendance numbers, that's particularly the case in the past couple of days. The system actually managed quite well through until New Year's Day, and from then was under a lot of strain.
"There are some hospitals that are coming out of that quicker, that's not all about performance though, it's a factor of available nursing home space in the community and transition in the community are key factors."
Woods has also predicted that the current peak is "probably two to three weeks away", which was due to the fact that "Hospitals will not turn people away".
"It's acknowledged there is a lot of strain, at the moment hospitals are coping under a lot of pressure, and I would acknowledge there is great work being done by clinical and other staff in hospitals."