There were more than 1,100 patients on trolleys in Galway’s hospitals in the city and Ballinasloe last month according to INMO figures.
Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe was particularly striking, with the 329 patients on trolleys representing the worst October it had seen in years.
University Hospital Galway was the third most overcrowded nationwide last month, dealing with 829 patients without a bed.
NMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that these figures are “an indication of what lies ahead” if action is not taken in the health service.
“These figures come in the backdrop of rapidly increasing COVID cases, increased hospitalisations and an increased number of nurses and midwives becoming infected with COVID-19.”
“We urgently need to see action on ensuring that patient-facing healthcare workers have every protection possible to keep them safe as infection numbers are reaching the high numbers we saw earlier this year.”
She reiterated a need for the COVID-19 booster shot rollout to be extended to healthcare workers to protect them.
“Our hospitals are no longer just full, they are overcrowded and we have not seen any detailed plan from the HSE in terms of winter planning. Winter is no longer a time coming down the tracks, it is already here.”
“We are calling on the HSE and Minister Donnelly to outline in detail this week what exactly they are planning for the months ahead and what capacity will be made available from the private sector.”
Overall there have been 54,456 people on trolleys so far this year compared to 45,038 people on trolleys in the same time period in 2020, which the INMO described as “gravel concerning”.
Figures from the union show that there were more patients on trolleys in the three children’s hospitals last month, than any other October on record, and five times more than the same month last year.
The most overcrowded hospital was University Hospital Limerick with 1,369 patients on trolleys, followed by Letterkenny (943), UHG (829), and Cork (688).
Phil Ni Sheaghdha said that if a winter plan for the health service will include the cancellation of elective procedures, then that decision needs to be made now rather than later.
“We need funding to implement the Safe-Staffing Framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse-to-patient ratio. Just like we have a pupil-teacher ratio that advises on the optimum number of children in a classroom to one teacher.”
“We are hearing examples in our hospitals of one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward. This is not a safe environment for the nurse or patients.”