A total of 2,334 people went without a bed at University Hospital Galway during 2020, new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have revealed.
January and February were the worst months for overcrowding at the hospital with over 1,600 people waiting on trolleys.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the HSE announced that they would adopt a zero-tolerance approach to patients waiting on trolleys.
This is reflected in the figures, as just three people waited for a bed at UHG from April until the end of July.
But the numbers of people waiting on trolleys have been creeping back up again slowly since the summer. In November, 122 people spent time waiting for a bed, and this almost doubled to 231 in December.
Across the Republic, at least 53,325 patients went without beds in hospitals during the year, and over 30,000 of those were recorded since the coronavirus arrived in Ireland.
“Hospital overcrowding is unacceptable at the best of times, but it is doubly so when dealing with a contagious virus,” said INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, the focus was on eliminating overcrowding. We now need immediate interventions to ensure our hospitals can cope with the volume of patients safely.”
Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that over 13,000 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 – nearly 4,000 of them nurses.
“These are the staff we need to roll out the vaccine and to provide care. They cannot be safe in overcrowded, infectious environments.
“We are now effectively running two health services, catering for COVID and non-COVD cases.
“We wrote to the HSE yesterday seeking urgent action. They must bring private hospital capacity onstream and postpone electives.”