Pressure mounts on HSE as record-breaking overcrowding revealed
Hospital overcrowding was up 18% in March when compared to the same month in 2022.
The latest data from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has revealed that a record-breaking number of patients were treated on trollies or chairs this month.
As many as 12,943 patients were affected by the burgeoning overcrowding crisis, with 447 of those treated on trollies or chairs being children.
This figure is an 18% increase on the 2022 total of 11,001, and a further 47% increase on the 8,817 tally recorded in 2021.
Speaking on what has been an unprecedented month in terms of hospital overcrowding, the INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that "this has been the worst March for overcrowding since the INMO began counting trolleys in 2006".
"In some hospitals the level of overcrowding we have seen has been out of control and cannot be allowed to continue into the spring and summer months", the general secretary added.
The worst affected hospitals for the previous month were Cork University Hospital (CUH) and University Hospital Limerick (UHL), which both endured record-setting levels of overcrowding.
Last Wednesday alone saw 90 patients treated on trolleys at CUH, a record daily figure for the hospital.
Meanwhile, last Friday was the worst day of the month, as 500 patients were seen to on trolleys across the country, with the worst impacted hospitals being UHL with 85 patients and CUH with a further 69.
Of those 500 patients, 30 were recorded as being under the age of 16.
The figures released by INMO also analyse the effectiveness of the HSE's winter plan, for the period between October of 2022 and March of this year.
This data highlights the fact that over 69,417 people have been without a bed during this six-month period, making it the most overcrowded winter since records began for the HSE.
Calling on the HSE to tackle the crisis head-on, the INMO general secretary stated;
"It is time for the HSE and Department of Health to devise a multi-annual plan as to how we tackle overcrowding. It is clear that it is no longer just a winter overcrowding crisis but a year-long one".
Given the severity of the overcrowding crisis which grips the Irish hospital system at present, the quality of care which medical professionals are capable of delivering may be impacted should the situation not improve.
"Nurses want to be able to carry out the high-quality care that they have been trained to do but cannot provide in these circumstances", Ms. Ní Sheaghdha declared.
It is the second blow to an already under-pressure health service this week, following the news that the state's only cervical check lab had lost its accreditation.
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