Over 500 people on trolleys in Galway hospitals this month

Galway Daily news UHG overcrowding

UHG was the fourth most overcrowded hospital in Ireland in July with 457 patients waiting on trolleys throughout the month.

There were another 80 sick people confined to trolleys in Portiuncula this month.

That’s according to the latest Trolleywatch figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

While both hospitals show improvement compared with last month when there were 501 people on trolleys at UHG and 99 at Portiuncula, there’s been a truly massive year-on-year increase.

In July 2017 there were only 202 patients without a hospital bed at UHG and a further 38 at Portiuncula. In both cases that figure has more than doubled in the space of a year.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that overcrowding is simply becoming a fact of life at hospitals, “Overcrowding is now a constant feature of our hospital system, even in summer.”

The most overcrowded hospital in Ireland this month was University Hospital Limerick, with 897 patients on trolleys.

The INMO says that Ireland’s Emergency departments are at least 216 nurses short of what is needed to care for all the patients that get admitted, according to figures directly from the HSE.

There are 159 nurses positions that are vacant, while they HSE estimates that another 57 nurses beyond that would be needed to care for all patients going without a hospital bed.

The INMO says that low pay and bad working conditions make it near-impossible to recruit and retain sufficient nurses in emergency departments.

“Low salaries for nurses and midwives mean that vacancies simply aren’t being taken up and health service capacity can’t grow. Without realistic pay correction for nurses and midwives, this problem won’t be fixed,” said Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“The HSE still haven’t set out their funding workforce plan, which sets how many nurses and midwives they will recruit this year. The hazardous working conditions for staff look set to worsen.”
The nursing census shows that across all services the number of nurses and midwives employed has fallen by than 2,500 since 2007, and that number is growing.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha warns that if the HSE doesn’t take immediate action we could be looking at another winter crisis at emergency departments.
“The HSE is sleepwalking into yet another winter crisis. We have today sought discussions on which services will be curtailed this winter, so that nursing staff can work in safe environments. It is very unlikely that services will develop to alleviate overcrowding this year. Plans must now be put in place to ensure a safe working environment.”