Trolley Watch Figures Confirm Significant Increase in ED Overcrowding

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, (INMO),  has just completed a six month comparative review of the level of ED overcrowding taking place in 2011 as compared to the same period in the years since 2006. This comparative study, which dramatically confirms the serious increase in ED overcrowding which has occurred, in 2011, confirms the following:

–         Over 46,000 people were on trolleys, having been admitted to a hospital, in the first 6 months of this year;

–         This marks a 20%  increase on same period in 2010;

–         This represents a 37% increase since 2006 when it was declared “a national emergency”;

–         A 67% increase since 2007 when measures to alleviate the problem were temporarily put in place, but subsequently withdrawn;

–         A dramatic increase in hospitals in the North East region where other services have been curtailed and centralised into the already crowded two main centres;

–         A significant deterioration in a number of other hospitals outside of Dublin;

–         A further deterioration in the greater Dublin area.

The INMO, having reviewed these figures, reaffirms its absolute conviction that the current policy of the HSE and Government, to reduce services in some hospitals and to centralise them in major centres, is ill-timed, will not succeed and will simply result in further misery for patients requiring in-patient care in a hospital bed in a proper ward.

The INMO would also hold that theses figures understate the true extent of the current problem for the following reasons:

–         The increasing attempts, by local hospital management, to hide the level of ED overcrowding by placing extra beds on already overcrowded hospital wards;

–         The time period does not acknowledge the full extent of the financial limitations now placed on the Fair Deal Scheme which will inevitably result in delayed discharges from acute hospitals.

Commenting on theses figures, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:

“Theses figures are truly shocking, cannot go unheeded by the HSE and Government and must result in a reversal of the current policies, all of which are now shown to be flawed.

This crisis will not be solved, or alleviated, by the further curtailment of small and medium 24/7 ED units, thus directing sick people into already overcrowded and overworked larger units.

This type of crisis management that we are now seeing, driven jointly by financial and NCHD manpower issues, in the absence of proper alternatives and proven modes of service delivery e.g. 24/7 nurse-led urgent care units/ nurse-led walk in chest pain units, will only exacerbate the current intolerable situation to the detriment of patients and staff alike.”

Mr Doran concluded:

“We call again for a national summit, chaired by the Minister, where all initiatives, capable of alleviating this problem, can be tabled and implemented, even within the current financial restraints, without delay.

The HSE and the Department must acknowledge that everything they have done to date has failed to solve this crisis and they must ask those in the frontline, providing the direct patient care, to put forward viable solutions to address what really is a nationwide emergency.”

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