IRISH HOSPITALS are beginning to show the cracks evident before the coronavirus crisis, with over 200 people currently on trolleys instead of beds.
In what was a constant source of anger, and which contributed to the shock election result which saw a drop in support for both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, patients in hospitals across Ireland were often forced to lie on trolleys for hours or even days due to a lack of space.
When the coronavirus crisis hit Ireland, the number of people on trolleys fell significantly, and in May, the Health Service Executive (HSE) pledged that "overcrowded health and social care facilities will no longer be tolerated".
Now, however, the number is on the rise again, and the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) yesterday revealed there were a total of 221 patients on trolleys in hospitals across the country.
The worst-hit hospitals include Cork University Hospital (50), University Hospital Limerick (41), MIdland Regional Hospital, Mullingar (25), Mayo University Hospital (22), Sligo University Hospital (14) and Crumlin Children's Hospital (13).
The INMO is now calling for direct government intervention to ensure the HSE fulfills its promise to prevent overcrowding, by implementing additional home care packages, higher staffed bed capacity and the expansion of step-down facility capacity.
The INMO have warned that "Covid and overcrowding make for a toxic combination", with Industrial Relations Officer for Cork University Hospital, Liam Conway, stating:
"This is a deadly virus and our frontline members are rightly worried for their safety and that of their patients. Infection control is necessarily compromised in a hospital with patients in corridors and on trolleys.
“The HSE assured us that there would be no tolerance of overcrowding during COVID. Yet no actions have been taken and we are sleepwalking back to mass overcrowding.
“It is time for direct government intervention, especially ahead of the annual winter surge. We need to fund extra beds, expand step-down care, and fund additional home care packages. And this all needs a funded workforce plan to recruit additional nurses and midwives immediately.”
In January 2020, there were 760 people on trolleys in Irish hospitals: the worst-ever day since records began.