March Trolley/Ward Watch Figures Break Several Records

–       10,511  highest ever for month of March

–       3,112 highest in one week

–       714 highest on one day

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) analysed its Trolley/Ward watch figures for the month of March (see attached) which were extremely high and broke all records for that month with 10,511 patients waiting for an in-patient bed.  We also saw record breaking trolley figures of 3,112 in just one week in March and a new high figure of 714  patients on trolleys awaiting admission on one day. 191 children also waited on trolleys.

Today there are 485 patients on trolleys with 338 in ED and a further 147 on Wards (see attached).

As part of its drive at national level to address hospital and ED overcrowding, the INMO has sought specifically that the HSE Acute Hospital Division intervenes in hospitals where the trolley numbers are simply out of control, and where local management is not adhering to the ED Agreement of 2016.  This requires site visits which the INMO has requested.  Where implemented correctly, the ED Agreement brokered between the INMO and the HSE in January 2016 has made remarkable improvements and better use of extra beds, both in community and acute hospitals.  RCSI Group figures e.g. Beaumont, Connolly, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and Cavan, clearly demonstrate this and have significantly reduced ED overcrowding since the agreement.  However, Connolly Hospital is now experiencing a rise in figures again with 453 March 2018 compared to 239 in March 2017.

INMO officials representing hospitals with consistently high numbers said that:

  • Today, Thursday, leading into a bank Holiday weekend 72 patients are  awaiting an in-patient bed in University Hospital, Limerick. INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Mary Fogarty said: “There is an urgent need for additional nursing staff and more beds.  Patient safety and clinical care is compromised due to the inability of the hospital to retain and recruit nurses with 60 nursing vacancies currently confirmed. There is no extra funding for further additional nursing resources to look after the 72 patients today.”   Speaking about South Tipperary General Hospital which had 589 patients on trolleys this month, more than twice the capacity of the hospital which has 255 beds, Ms Fogarty said: The situation is further compounded by the shortage of nursing staff to look after patients and the conditions for those who are ill and the frail elderly are  inexcusable.”


  • There are 55 patients awaiting a bed today in Cork University Hospital. Liam Conway, INMO Industrial Relations Officer said: “There is an on-going issue with regard to delayed discharges to step down facilities.  The INMO is highlighting this to the South/South West Group and Community Health Organisations.”

  • Joe Hoolan, INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Tallaght Hospital where there were 508 patients on trolleys for the month of March 2018 said: “The hospital has yet to recruit any additional nursing staff to care for the admitted patients who are in the Emergency Department.  This is a feature throughout the Dublin/Midlands Hospital Group where no nurses have been recruited for this purpose.”


  • Galway University Hospital which has 708 beds had the equivalent of the full hospital on trolleys in March with 709 waiting for a bed.  Anne Burke, INMO Industrial Relations Officer for the hospital said: “The nurse staffing levels on the wards in GUH have been decimated since the moratorium and have not recovered. INMO in Galway are calling on management to address recruitment that will see the complement of nursing staff on our wards increased to reflect the complexity of patient care and the increased activity levels.”

Speaking today, INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said:

A figure of 495 was considered a national emergency in 2006. We expect that next week’s figures will be high as our hospitals and staff continue to be overburdened particularly following the bank holiday  weekend.


During the month of March the INMO called for extraordinary measures to be put in place to focus on recovering from the adverse weather event, ensuring prioritisation of emergency care requiring all non-urgent and routine cases to be cancelled during that period. We are now calling for these measures to be implemented again. In this crisis all measures to properly resource and staff the health service must be explored and the assistance of services in the private acute hospitals must also be sought. 

The INMO has sought confirmation that all  hospitals are adhering to the nationally agreed escalation policy and remind all employers of  the health and safety obligations of the employer in situations where workplaces are overcrowded and pose risks to staff. It is simply  not possible for the hospitals, or staff, to continue to provide safe care under these conditions.”

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