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August ED Overcrowding Reaches Record Levels According to INMO Trolley Watch Analysis. 05.09.11

PRESS RELEASE, Monday, 5th September 2011

- 35% increase on 2010
- 106% increase since 2007

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), in reviewing its August trolley watch figures for this year, compared to the past 5 years, has found that August 2011 has seen the highest ever levels of overcrowding in the country’s Emergency Departments for that month. Click here to vew the detailed figures, confirm the following:

- 6,624 people found themselves on a trolley, in August, awaiting a hospital bed following a decision to admit;
- This was 35% up on the same period in 2010 when there were 4,924 patients on trolleys awaiting beds.

The latest survey confirms the dramatic increase in overcrowding, in August 2011, when compared to the same period in the previous 5 years. This has resulted in the following:

- 35% increase in 2011 compared to 2010
- 64% increase in 2011 compared to 2009
- 61% increase in 2011 compared to 2008
- 106% increase in 2011 compared to 2007
- 79% increase in 2011 compared to 2006

The gravity of the situation, in the country’s Emergency Departments, was also confirmed, in terms of daily trolley watch figures, when we recorded 401 people on trolleys on August 31st.

It is the INMO’s view that these figures, which are issued in conjunction with the HSE, confirm our worst fears that:

- the volume of acute bed closures;
- the reduction in continuing (long term) care beds; and
- the cutbacks in community based services;

are having a devastating impact upon the quality of care available to all patients attending hospital Emergency Departments.

There are currently 1947 beds closed in the public health service (Click here to view details).

In meetings with our members, working in ED’s across the country, there is now a sense of deep concern and frustration as they contemplate moving into the autumn/winter period when all hospitals will face a significant increase in demand.

The situation is now so grave that we are calling upon the statutory regulatory authorities, such as HIQA, An Bord Altranais and the Medical Council, to inspect all of these hospitals (in their entirety) to ensure staff are able to provide safe care, in a dignified environment, to all patients at all times.

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

“These figures for August must tell the Minister and the HSE that their current cost containment programmes are having a serious negative impact upon patient care.

Increasingly we are facing attempts by local hospital managements to deal with this problem by placing additional beds on all in patient wards, notwithstanding the fact that there are closed beds/wards in all of these hospitals. This is simply wrong.

ED overcrowding, and people waiting for a bed on a trolley, is the greatest challenge facing the entire health system every day. It cannot, and will not, be solved by hiding the problem, with extra beds on wards, thus compromising the care of all patients.”

Mr Doran concluded:

“Regardless of IMF/EU austerity programmes this government must now review its current policy of constantly cutting back on frontline health services, as a way of saving money, and realise that this is harmful to patient care and simply unsustainable.

It must therefore prioritise the opening of closed beds, in sufficient numbers to meet present and future demand, and it must do so without further delay, prevarication or hesitation. There is no other option or solution to deal with this crisis which exists every day in our public health service.”

-end-

 
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