Over 550 patients currently waiting on trolleys in Irish hospitals, INMO says
This comes before we hit peak flu season.
551 patients are waiting for treatment on trolleys in Irish hospitals today (10 January).
The latest figures were provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who found that 407 people were waiting on trolleys in emergency departments, while 144 were on trolleys in wards.
Currently, Letterkenny is in the worst situation with 43 people waiting on beds, while University Hospital Galway has 42 and University Hospital Limerick has 35.
As flu season began last week, the number of patients on trolleys hit a record high of 677. However, it is predicted that the season's peak has not yet come.
Yesterday, it was reported that a 94-year old man spent over 10 hours on a trolley in Galway due to overcrowding, which was the second time he had been in such a situation after it was revealed that he spent 13 hours waiting on a bed during January 2017.
Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show, INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha has said one of the major problems is arising from permanent staff shortages:
"We know there were 3,000 full-time equivalents down from what we were in 2007, just before the moratorium on recruitment and promotion was introduced," she said.
"That was the biggest problem we ever had in nursing and midwifery, because in reality nursing and midwifery should have been exempt. They weren't.
"We're now playing catch-up", she continued. "We estimate that our funded workforce plan, that we agreed with the Department of Health and the HSE last February, required an increase of 1,224 funded posts by December this year. 13 full-time equivalents were achieved by September, and we're awaiting the December figures. It's an absolute mess."
The Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty spoke earlier in defence of the Government, by insisting that they are making every attempt to solve the current crisis.
"The Minister for Health is in constant contact with the Emergency Task Force," she said.
"A number of senior decision-makers have now been put on rosters for the weekend and at evening times to make sure that we turn around people and make sure that decisions are being made in a timely fashion. The amount of beds that we have that can be opened are being opened.
"We are currently going through a recruitment process to actually get the staff to open those beds."