Beginning of 2017 saw highest-ever hospital overcrowding

The INMO said the recruitment and retention of nurses remains the key issue in terms of solving the hospital crisis

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Picture by: Tim Ockenden / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The first four months of this year saw the worst over-crowding in our hospitals since records began.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said over 36,000 patients waited on trolleys for an in-patient bed in the first third of the year.

The situation improved slightly in April when almost 7,200 patients waited on trolleys - a 12% improvement on April 2016.

The figures showed a continued drop in overcrowding levels at hospitals in Dublin – however, outside of the capital hospitals are facing significant increases.

The union's "Trolley Watch" figures were released as the INMO prepares to open its annual delegate conference in Wexford later today.

The organisation’s general secretary Liam Doran said the key issue facing the government in terms of addressing the hospital crisis is the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives.

“Without nurses and midwives, you cannot solve the problems of a health service and you will only solve the nursing and midwifery problem by once and for all dealing with the pay issue,” he said.

“Not putting it off until tomorrow - deal with it in the next three of four weeks when the public service pay talks begin.”

The highest levels of overcrowding in April were at:

  • Cork University Hospital – 658
  • University Hospital, Limerick – 649
  • Sth Tipperary General Hospital – 493
  • Mater Hospital, Dublin – 437
  • University Hospital, Galway – 410

“The April figure showed a decrease year-on-year so that has to be welcomed but obviously we are still at an overall level of overcrowding which is unacceptable,” said Mr Doran.

“We still have too few beds, too few staff and too many patients having their care compromised as a result.”

The INMO conference gets underway in Wexford this morning.