Updated: 06/01/17 : 06:18:07
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Trolley Crisis - INMO call for cross-border cooperation

Ms Maura Hickey, Industrial Relations Officer with the INMO has called on the HSE to make contact with neighbouring hospitals in Northern Ireland in order to assist with chronic overcrowding which she has described as being unsustainable.

On Thursday morning there were 46 patients waiting for beds in the wards in Letterkenny University Hospital. The Emergency Department National Escalation Policy has been applied with management opening three escalation areas to house some of these patients, while others are being nursed in treatment rooms or on ward corridors.

Some Day Services work has been cancelled. Elective work in theatres has been cancelled. Nursing staff in the Day Services Unit are looking after patients in the overflow escalation areas. This situation has progressively worsened over the past month.  

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has learned that there are over 14 patients in the hospital who have been clinically discharged, to other services, which are unavailable at this time. GP and self-referrals to the ED continue to be high.


The hospital has seen an increase of 10% in ED attendances since January this year. This record overcrowding is very disappointing and is further evidence that the measures taken to date, while welcome, are insufficient to deal with this 10% increase in attendance.  Special emergency and immediate measures are now required.

INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Maura Hickey said, “This volume of overcrowding in Letterkenny University Hospital is not sustainable and cannot be allowed to continue.  It is imperative that additional bed capacity (in both acute and continuing care) and extra home help and home care packages are provided, with full funding, immediately, to ease this crisis situation.

These patients, waiting for beds in the hospital and community hospitals, are individual people who require admission.  Their loss of dignity, privacy and access to care in an appropriate environment cannot be forgotten and should be the HSE’s priority.

Staff are increasingly struggling to deliver a high standard of care in an unsafe environment. This is an impossible working environment for staff and contravenes Health and Safety legislation which imposes an obligation upon all employers to maintain a safe working environment. This cannot continue and sustained actions must be taken to increase capacity with additional appropriate staffing to deal properly and safely with every person who presents for care and attention.  Nursing staff are gravely concerned for the safety of their patients and feel no one is listening to their concerns”.

In conclusion Ms Hickey said, “This is such a crisis the INMO is also calling on HSE management to immediately engage with neighbouring health services, including in Northern Ireland, to see what additional capacity it can supply in the interests of patient care.”