There were almost 1,000 hospital patients who were forced to wait on trolleys in Galway this October between UHG and Portiuncula Hospital.
University Hospital Galway was the third most overcrowded hospital in the country last month with 855 patients on trolleys, and another 126 people were left without a bed in Portiuncula.
That’s an increase of 23.6 percent on the same period last year at UHG and a 20 percent increase at Portiuncula.
In total the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says that there were 11,452 patients on trolleys last month.
The union said that this is the single worst October ever recorded for overcrowding, and the second worst month they have ever seen since record keeping of patients on trolleys began.
No surprises the worst affected hospital was University Hospital Limerick (1,450), followed by Cork University Hospital (1,028), UHG (885), South Tipperary General Hospital (753) and Letterkenny University Hospital (693).
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said “The message from the frontline is clear: patients are being put at grave risk.”
“There is no doubt that this situation will worsen as winter bites, unless staffing becomes a top priority for the government.
“Patients are paying the price for the HSE’s “go slow” recruitment freeze, which leaves many posts unfilled. I have written to the HSE to warn that their recruitment pause is putting lives at risk.”
“We need to be encouraging more nurses and midwives into our system. Instead, we are making an already bureaucratic recruitment process even more difficult.
“In many cases, we’re slamming the door on those who want to work in our public health system,” she concluded.
The INMO has said that since the start of this year there are 308 fewer staff nurses in Irish hospitals, along with 37 fewer Public Health nurses and 87 less midwives.
HSE workforce figures cited by the union are based on the September 2019 Health Service Employment Report’s “Employment by Grade Group” figures, compared with the same report from December 2018.
Overall the INMO says that there are 1,300 nursing and midwifery vacancies within the public health system.
It warns that research undertaken by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research found that when nurse staffing fell below average levels on a ward, the risk of death increased by 3%.