University Hospital Galway was the third most overcrowded in Ireland last year, with 7,993 patients on trolleys throughout 2019.
In total 118,367 people were left without a hospital bed in 2019, making it the worst year for hospital overcrowding in record according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, 9% higher than in 2018.
The numbers at UHG were up 7% from 2018, when the yearly figure came to 7,452 people on trolleys, and represent a 64% jump from the start of the decade.
In Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe there were 1,503 patients without a proper bed this year, representing a 14.3% increase on 2018, and 56.6% higher than in 2010.
“Things are getting worse, not better. These figures should be falling, but we’re going the wrong direction,” INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.
“2019 saw thousands more patients without proper beds – often at one of the most vulnerable points in their lives.”
“Overcrowding used to be a winter problem. Now it’s an all-year problem, which gets worse in winter,” she added.
The worst months for hospital overcrowding recorded by the INMO were November (12,055), October (11,452), and September (10,641).
University Hospital Limerick was the worst affected, as expected, with 13,941 patients without beds, followed by Cork UH (11,066), UHG (7,993), South Tipperary General Hospital (6,942), and UH Waterford (6,313).
The way to tackle this is by increasing staffing and bed capacity, and by proceeding with Sláintecare reforms, and the fact that this is well known is what’s so frustrating, she added.
“Instead, the HSE continues to enforce its rigid recruitment controls, starving hospitals and community services of the staff they need.”
“Our members are rightly appalled by the conditions they are forced to work and care for patients in,” Phil Ní Sheaghdha added.
She concluded by saying that getting understaffing and overcrowding in hand this year will require and end to the recruitment ban and aggressive investment.