The number of people without beds in Irish hospitals today has been named as the worst-ever figure since records began.
With 760 people awaiting admission in hospitals around the country, they would fill the largest hospital in the state – St. James (707 beds) – or take more than twice the equivalent of Letterkenny University Hospital (333 beds).
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation recorded 37 patients waiting in the Emergency Department of LUH this Monday morning. Eleven patients were on trolleys, while 26 were waiting in overflow wards.
The INMO is calling for a major incident protocol to be adopted across the country, as was done of the second worst-ever day for overcrowding on 12 March 2018. The “Beast from the East” struck on this day, when 714 patients went without beds.
The protocol would likely see all non-emergency admissions stopped, electives cancelled, and extra bed capacity sourced from the private and public sectors.
The union is also calling for an infection control plan, as overcrowding increases infection risks.
Meanwhile, visiting restrictions remain in place at LUH due to the flu outbreak.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “Ireland’s beleaguered health service continues to break records in the worst possible way. Our members are working in impossible conditions to provide the best care they can.
“The excuse that this is all down to the flu simply doesn’t hold. There are always extra patients in winter, but we simply do not get the extra capacity to cope. This is entirely predictable, yet we seemingly fail to deal with it every year.
“The government need to immediately initiate a major incident protocol. We need to cancel elective surgeries, stop non-emergency admissions, and source extra capacity wherever we can.
“We also need to immediately scrap the HSE’s counterproductive recruitment pause, which is leaving these services understaffed and thus overcrowded.
“Behind these numbers are hundreds of individual vulnerable patients – it is a simply shameful situation. This is entirely preventable if proper planning was in place.”