Portiuncula Hospital has worst November on record for overcrowding

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Galway Daily news INMO calls for curtailment of all but urgent care amid hospital crisis

Portiuncula Hospital had its worst November on record for the number of patients on trolleys last month.

Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that there were 208 patients without a bed at Portiuncula Hospital last month.

This is the highest number seen in a November at the Ballinasloe hospital since Trolley/Ward Watch records began in 2006.

At University Hospital Galway there were 648 patients on trolleys last month, more than five times higher than the same time last year, as overcrowding rebounded when the health service reopened.

The INMO has called for the public and private healthcare systems to act as one to tackle hospital overcrowding.

“Despite calls from the HSE Chief Executive for hospitals to cancel elective procedures on November 19, we have seen relatively high numbers of people on trolleys for the month of November,” said INMO General Secretary Phíl Ní Sheaghdha.

“We need to see an increase in capacity and utilise the private hospitals. We are now at a stage where we need all of our health services including public and private to be acting as one.”

“The public service is under too much pressure to be expected to shoulder the entire burden of the pandemic. This is the time for private hospitals to step up and be fully involved with this public health emergency. The need to make profit must be secondary at this time.”

Nationwide, there was a 110 percent increase in trolley numbers in Irish hospitals in November compared with 2020.

The three worst affected were University Hospital Limerick (1,358), Letterkenny University Hospital (1,067) and Cork University Hospital (726).

Phíl Ní Sheaghdha said that nursing staff are “exhausted before winter begins” due to trolley numbers on the rise during the year, and the ongoing impact of the COVId-19 pandemic.

“We tend to forget with everything that has happened since COVID first landed on our shores that nurses were dealing with chronic overcrowding in our hospitals with over 20,000 people on trolleys in the first two months of 2020.”

“There needs to be a recognition from the HSE as the employer that the conditions nurses are currently operating are having an impact on their safety and that of the patient.”