Updated: 04/10/17 : 06:43:41
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Hospital overcrowding figures rise to record numbers in September

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley/Ward Watch figures, for the month of September, confirm that a record number of 8,101 patients, admitted for care, were on trolleys, in Emergency Departments or wards, in the past month. This represents a 7% increase, on 2016, and a 132% increase on September 2007 (3,494). See attached tables.

The latest figures also confirm that, in the first nine months of 2017, a record number of 73,556 admitted patients, were on trolleys, which again represents a 7% increase, on 2016, and a 94% increase on the same nine months in 2007.  At that time the overcrowding situation was declared a national emergency.

The hospitals with the greatest levels of overcrowding, in the past month, were:

    University Hospital Limerick:                       902;
    Cork University Hospital:                             628;
    University Hospital Galway:                         598;
    University Hospital Waterford:                      505;
    Tallaght Hospital, Dublin                              448.

The INMO Executive Council, at its meeting yesterday (Tuesday, 3rd October 2017), also considered the latest report, with regard to implementing the Funded Workforce Plan, for Nursing/Midwifery, in 2017.  The Council noted that, as part of this agreement, the HSE has committed to employ an additional 123 nurses, to look after admitted patients, across a number of Emergency Departments.  However, to date, the latest report confirms that only 17 of these posts are currently in place.

Against this stark background the INMO Executive Council, recognising the deepening crisis with regard to overcrowding and understaffing, decided that emergency talks would be sought with the HSE/Department of Health.  The purpose will be to bring forward a range of emergency actions, which must include the provision of additional financial resources, and staffing, to ease the crisis as we enter the late autumn/winter period.

The INMO also believes that the current situation, is a major factor in the recruitment/retention crisis which continues with regard to nursing/midwifery.  To address this the INMO is calling for special pay measures, which will increase the supply of nursing staff, improve staffing levels and the quality of care available to patients while allowing for the opening of additional beds and expansion of other needed services.

In addition the INMO is calling upon:

    HIQA to carry out inspections of all hospitals with high levels of overcrowding, not just the Emergency Departments, to examine, and report upon, the patient safety and welfare issues which are being severely compromised on a daily basis; and 

    the Health and Safety Authority to immediately carry out unannounced inspections to determine whether employers have breached their statutory obligation to maintain a safe place of work for their staff and immediately issue improvement orders.

Speaking this evening INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said,  “This record level of overcrowding, as detailed in the latest trolley/ward watch figures, when combined with the abject failure of the HSE to ensure safe staffing, in these overcrowded departments, must be recognised as a deepening crisis requiring immediate attention by a number of agencies.

"It is quite clear that, in many hospitals, the daily situation is beyond breaking point with patients left without dignity and privacy.  Furthermore, due to the failure to employ additional staff, consistent with an agreed dependency tool and best practice, the care of those patients is being compromised.

"Urgent talks are now required, with both the HSE and Department of Health, to ascertain what measures, including pay incentives, they intend to put in place, as we enter the winter period, in response to the severe shortage of beds and staff confirmed by the latest trolley/ward watch figures.

"In addition the INMO will be calling upon both HIQA and the Health and Safety Authority to immediately inspect all health facilities, where overcrowding is taking place, for the purpose of issuing directives to HSE to protect patients and staff”.