Record Levels of Emergency Department Overcrowding in July

–          6,751 admitted patients on trolleys last month


The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s (INMO) trolley/ward watch analysis has confirmed that this July saw record numbers of admitted patients on trolleys, as compared to previous years, since trolley watch began 12 years ago.


This marked deterioration came after two months (May and June) when there had been a significant reduction in the number of patients finding themselves without a proper in-patient bed.


The figures confirm that there was a 1% increase this year compared to 2015.  However, the figures also confirm that they were 95% worse this year than in 2006 when Emergency Department overcrowding was declared a ‘national emergency’ by the then Minister for Health.


The increased level of overcrowding has also taken place as the number of vacant nursing posts in the country’s EDs continues to grow.  Despite a DOH/HSE commitment, as part of a national agreement, health employers have failed to fill all vacant nursing posts in EDs, which is now estimated to be over 150 (up from 135 earlier this year).


It should also be noted that official HSE figures confirm that we still have almost 3,500 less nursing/midwifery posts, in the public health service, today as compared to 2009.  HSE figures also confirm that we have 250 less staff nurse posts at the end of June this year compared to December 2015.


The increased numbers of patients on trolleys is also a direct result of the failure of the health service to increase its bed capacity due to an inability to recruit staff; a period where home care packages were curtailed leading to an increase in delayed discharges; and, the reality that there has been a 6% increase in the number of patients presenting to the country’s Emergency Departments.


The ED Taskforce is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, September 6.  This meeting is to consider plans for a winter initiative but, in the view of the INMO, it must also consider immediate measures to alleviate the continuing crisis.  In that context the joint chairs of the ED Taskforce,Tony O’ Brien (HSE)/ Liam Doran (INMO), will be meeting with the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD next week to discuss the current situation including the continuing severe difficulties with regard to recruiting and retaining nursing staff.


Speaking this morning, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:


“These July figures are extremely disappointing and indicate the health system continues to underestimate the challenges arising within our Emergency Departments.


The INMO has consistently said ED overcrowding and waiting lists difficulties cannot, and will not, be solved without additional nursing staff and an increase in bed capacity.


These issues will be at the centre of our forthcoming discussions with the Minister for Health and the Director General of the HSE.”

INMO Trolley and Ward Watch Analysis  July 2006-2016.pdf

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