REVEALED: Waterford A&E overcrowding almost doubles in two years
The latest Trolley and Ward Watch figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reveal that the number of people left waiting for a bed at University Hospital Waterford's A&E Department has almost doubled in two years.
In 2016, 290 patients had been left waiting on trolleys and in already full wards in Waterford in the month of October, but during October 2018, 512 patients were left in a similar situation at the hospital.
The 2018 figure is an increase from the 483 patients who had waited on trolleys and on already full wards at the hospital in October 2017. The 2018 figure is more than ten times higher than the 38 patients recorded in the same month at Waterford A&E ten years ago in 2018.
The INMO revealed on Wednesday that 2018 has seen the worst October on record for hospital overcrowding, with 9,055 admitted patients forced to wait on trolleys and chairs for beds. Waterford was one of just five hospitals to record over 500 patients on trolleys during the month of October this year.
The INMO also expressed concern at overcrowding in smaller hospitals. South Tipperary General Hospital, for example, had 474 patients waiting on trolleys over the month – nearly three times the hospital’s total bed capacity.
The union says that much of the overcrowding is down to understaffing, caused primarily by unattractively low pay levels in Irish nursing and midwifery. According to the HSE census, as of September 2018, Ireland’s health service has 227 fewer staff nurses than December 2017
The INMO will be releasing figures in the coming days which measure understaffing at key hospitals across Ireland.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Over 9,000 patients forced to wait on trolleys and it’s not even peak winter season. Figures like these do not adequately express the hardship endured by patients who find themselves in these circumstances. The negative health impacts of this overcrowding are known, yet this is not addressed as a national priority."
“Our current health service simply does not have the capacity to cope. The government accept that we need additional beds, but we do not have a plan to tackle this daily problem. Opening extra beds requires extra nurses, but low pay means there is no immediate prospect of recruiting additional nurses or retaining current ones," Phil added.