108,227 patients went without hospital beds in 2018 – a record high, according to new analysis released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
The figures are a 9% increase on 2017, which was itself a record high. This is nearly double the number in 2006 (55,720), when INMO records began.
Sligo University Hospital had a total of 4,183, which was almost double the figure of 2017. In Cavan General Hospital in the same period the number of people on trolleys was 619.
2018’s months with the highest figures were January (12,201), February (10,772) and March (10,511).
The worst-hit hospitals included:Limerick University Hospital – 11,437
Cork University Hospital – 9,135
Galway University Hospital – 7,452
Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore – 5,831
Tallaght University Hospital – 5,432
Smaller hospitals also saw record overcrowding. South Tipp General Hospital, for example, had 5,201 patients on trolleys this year.
The INMO blames the crisis on low capacity and understaffing. The organisation has asked the government to work with the INMO to develop real proposals that will resolve the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing.
This has not happened, and 95% of INMO nurses and midwives voted in favour of industrial action. The INMO Executive will meet on the 7th and 8th of January to set dates for strikes.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said, “Despite the government spin, 2018 was the worst year on record for overcrowding. Negative records were set throughout the year, with over 100,000 admitted patients forced to wait on trolleys and chairs, without a proper bed. We know that this dramatically worsens outcomes for our patients.
“The health service does not have enough beds to support our population. More beds means more nurses, but the HSE simply can’t hire enough on these wages. It’s beyond time for the government to engage proactively with the INMO to resolve the crisis in Irish nursing and midwifery.
“Patients should be focused on recovering, but instead have to worry about waiting times, understaffing and a lack of beds. 2019 must see real changes in policy and funding to resolve this once and for all.”