LIMERICK, Ireland - Warning that an improvement to hospital overcrowding in 2018 is unlikely to change, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has released latest numbers of overcrowding.
According to the INMO, overall throughout 2017, 98,981 admitted patients were recorded as awaiting on a hospital bed.
INMO said that its annual trolley and ward watch figures recorded over 300 patients waiting on trolleys or on additional beds in the final weekend of the year.
It noted that University Hospital Limerick recorded the highest annual number at 8869; while Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway saw 6815 and 6563 respectively.
Meanwhile, the Mater University Hospital in Dublin was the capital's most overcrowded hospital, with 5238 patients on trolleys during 2017.
Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan showed increases from 595 in 2016 to 2435 in 2017.
Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe recorded 1569 trolley figures compared with 892 in 2016.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha, general-secretary, INMO said, "Overcrowding in late December and early January is getting worse. Despite investment in winter plans, smaller hospitals are now severely overcrowded which is manifestly unsafe and leads to higher cross infection and poorer outcomes for patients. Nursing staff, constantly working in this high pressure, unsafe environment, cannot be expected to put up with this obvious neglect of duty of care to them and the patients they try to care for any longer.”
Sheaghdha added, "It appears to me, that staff and patients, on the front line, were abandoned while the system shutdown for Christmas and the New Year."
Sheaghdha said there is a system of de-escalation which is mandatory for hospitals to follow, before spreading overcrowding to the entire hospital.
On Tuesday, the INMO said that there were a record 656 patients on trolleys or on wards waiting for admission to a bed.
On January 3 last year, the country recorded the previous highest level of overcrowding, when 612 patients were waiting for a bed.