Over 100,000 on trolleys so far in 2022. Measures needed to retain nurses and midwives
100,195 patients have gone without beds in Irish hospitals in 2022 so far, according to INMO analysis released today. Over 1,903 children have been on trolleys.
This is the earliest that this high number of admitted patients has ever been recorded. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has been warning of unprecedented overcrowding in 2022 since early summer and calling for practical planning in advance of this predicted unsafe situation.
The five worst-hit hospitals so far this year are:
1. University Hospital Limerick 15,322
2. Cork University Hospital 10,107
3. Sligo University Hospital 6,919
4. St Vincent’s University Hospital 6,359
5. Letterkenny University Hospital 5,366
The trade union has called for a four-pronged approach to tackle overcrowding and the recruitment and retention crisis:
a) The cancellation of non-urgent elective care in public hospitals and use of private hospitals for this work
b) The introduction of retention measures including provision of accommodation for essential workers such as nurses and midwives particularly in rent pressure zones
c) Legislation to underpin the implementation of the safe staffing and skill mix framework
d) Prioritisation of funding for public delivered long term care in the community
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“This is the earliest in any given year that trolley figures have reached this unacceptable level. It is not good enough that nurses and the patients they are trying to provide safe care to are expected to accept this as normal.
“Senior figures in the health service have warned the Irish public that waiting over 24 hours to be admitted to hospital is the new normal. In no other country would this level of indignity be accepted.
“Behind our trolley figures that we publish everyday are vulnerable patients trapped in undignified and unsafe conditions. Our members are working incredibly hard, it is clear that our public health service can no longer provide both emergency care and elective care. To that end we are calling for all non-urgent elective care in public hospitals to be curtailed. Private hospitals must be now brought on the pitch to provide elective care until the end of March 2023 at the very least.
“We know that many nurses and midwives are signalling their intention to leave the profession or go abroad to work in safer conditions. Directors of Nursing and Midwifery in hospitals are telling us how incredibly difficult it is to recruit but also retain staff, particularly in large hospitals. We are now calling on the Government to deal with this unsafe, unacceptable and inhumane situation.
“While it is welcome that safe staffing is prioritised in the winter plan, we know that in many hospitals that safe staffing is not being met, a number of hospitals around the country have insufficient rosters and inappropriate skill mix to provide safe care.
“We do not need more pronouncements of increasing bed capacity, which is a meaningless endeavour if you do not have the staff to ensure that these beds can be opened safely. The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive cannot afford to be passive. Between overcrowding and retention of nurses, the situation is worsening every day. Every possible measure that can be taken in the coming days and weeks must be taken.”