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Hospitals facing worst overcrowding since pandemic began

Ireland’s hospitals are more overcrowded than at any point over the last year, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has warned.

Some 376 patients were without beds in hospitals across Ireland this morning – the highest figure recorded since 5 March 2020.

In Galway, 27 patients were on trolleys today – with 21 of those at University Hospital Galway and six at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinalsoe.

The worst-hit hospitals nationally include University Hospital Limerick with 75 patients awaiting a bed, Letterkenny University Hospital (31) and Cork University Hospital (30).

The INMO warned that redeployment of staff was seeing day services closed or scaled back, which is putting extra pressure on emergency departments.

The Union’s President Karen McGowan said that although the levels of COVID are reducing, the long-standing trolley crisis is again rearing its head.

“Our members are seriously concerned that we will swing from the COVID crisis back into an overcrowding crisis,” said Karen McGowan.

“They need to know that the HSE will not tolerate overcrowding and ensure that safe staffing levels are implemented.”

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that trolley figures were kept suppressed for much of the pandemic, but ‘we are slipping back into old bad habits’.

“The HSE cannot allow trolley figures to rise and rise. Overcrowding is simply unsafe for patients – especially during a pandemic,” said the General Secretary.

“It is placing intolerable pressure on an exhausted workforce, who are now working to provide mass vaccinations in addition to a COVID and non-COVID healthcare service.

“The HSE and HIQA need to rapidly intervene in the worst-hit sites, and anything that can be done to ensure key staff are not redeployed must be looked at.

“COVID could be a turning point for the Irish healthcare system. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Galway Senator Seán Kyne raised recent overcrowding and long waits in the Emergency Department at Galway University Hospital today in the Seanad.

Senator Kyne called for immediate action from both Saolta and the HSE nationally to introduce measures which would combat delays and overcrowding.

Michael Malone
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