2018 was the worst year on record for hospital overcrowding with nearly 7,500 patients at University Hospital Galway going without a hospital bed.
End of year figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that 7,452 patients at UHG spent time on trolleys in the Emergency Department or in overcrowded wards this year.
In December alone some 575 patients at University Hospital Galway weren’t able to get a bed.
The damage at UHG is just part of the worst year the INMO has ever recorded for hospital overcrowding, with 108,227 patients going without a bed this year.
This is a nine percent increase on 2017, which was itself a record year for overcrowding.
University Hospital Limerick was the worst hit hospital in the country, with 11,437 patients without a proper bed, followed by Cork University Hospital with 9,135.
UHG was the third most overcrowded hospital nationwide.
The INMO blames the trolley crisis on understaffing and low capacity. The organisation says there is a difficulty in retaining trained nursing staff due to low pay.
A report commissioned by the government rejected claims that there is a generalised issue with pay and retention.
Earlier this month, members of the INMO overwhelmingly backed a strike action, with 95% voting in favour.
The Executive of the INMO will meet on January 7-8 to set a date for strikes which could see nurses withdraw all but essential, lifesaving care.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said, “Despite the government spin, 2018 was the worst year on record for overcrowding.”
“Negative records were set throughout the year, with over 100,000 admitted patients forced to wait on trolleys and chairs, without a proper bed. We know that this dramatically worsens outcomes for our patients.
“The health service does not have enough beds to support our population. More beds means more nurses, but the HSE simply can’t hire enough on these wages.”
“It’s beyond time for the government to engage proactively with the INMO to resolve the crisis in Irish nursing and midwifery.”
“Patients should be focused on recovering, but instead have to worry about waiting times, understaffing and a lack of beds. 2019 must see real changes in policy and funding to resolve this once and for all.”