Thursday, December 1, 2016
- However, November figures worst on record (26% up on November 2015)
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s (INMO) latest trolley watch survey, for the year to date, confirms a minimal (1%) improvement in the number of admitted patients on trolleys so far this year. The figures confirm that, in the first 11 months 85,731 patients had been admitted for in-patient care but were left on trolleys as no beds were available (see here).
However, the figures also confirm that the level of overcrowding, this November, which saw 9,306 admitted patients on trolleys, was the worst on record for the month of November since counting began. The level of overcrowding was 26% greater than in November 2015 and 99% higher than the level of overcrowding recorded in November 2006 (see here).
The analysis for the first 11 months of 2016 compared with 2015 shows the following:
Overall figures for the 11 months reduced by 1%
The numbers in the East reduced by 21% e.g. Connolly Hospital down 48%, St James’s 33% and Beaumont 26%
The numbers in the Country rose by 10% with South Tipperary General Hospital up by 162% , MRH, Tullamore 75% and University Hospital, Waterford 54%
The analysis for November 2016 compared with 2015 confirmed the following:
• Overall figures increased by 26%
• Numbers in the East reduced by 15% with Connolly Hospital down 41%, Tallaght 36% and Beaumont 35%
• Numbers in the Country rose by 49% with South Tipperary General Hospital up 252%, Mercy, Cork 201% and Letterkenny General 161%
Overall these figures must be viewed as very disappointing as they once again confirm that all measures taken, to date, have not reduced the overall numbers of admitted patients finding themselves on trolleys.
In particular, the figures for November, which indicate a 26% deterioration when compared to last November, are very worrying as we enter the deep winter period when demand will inevitably increase.
The marked deterioration in November may, in some part, be as a result of the need to close 180 beds, across the system, for infection control reasons. The INMO believes that this increase in the spread of infection, within hospital wards, should not be viewed with surprise and is as a direct consequence of the daily overcrowding taking place in wards in many hospitals across the service. Ward overcrowding inevitably compromises best practice, with regard to infection control, and, ultimately, results in bed closures to control the spread of infection.
These figures will be brought forward, for review, when the ED Taskforce meets on next Monday afternoon, December 5.
The situation is further exacerbated due to the growing crisis with regard to nurse recruitment which sees many Emergency Departments and in-patient wards grossly understaffed. The latest figures for Emergency Departments appear to confirm that there are over 120 vacant posts as compared to 85 in the first quarter of this year. The INMO notes the recent initiatives, through public advertisement, to fill these posts. However, the reality is that the current terms and conditions, in the public health service, are not competitive, when compared to other job opportunities, at home and abroad, not to mention the intolerable working environment. This reality only serves to confirm the need for special initiatives, to attract and retain nursing staff, and these must be brought forward without delay.
Speaking this evening, INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said:
“These figures are hugely disappointing, if not surprising, and confirm yet again, our health service cannot cope with the demands being placed upon it.
The figures for November are particularly alarming as we enter the peak winter period with the inevitable increased demand that takes place every year over the next three to four months.
The loss of beds, due to hospital acquired infection, is also alarming and must be examined in the context of the constant ward level overcrowding, arising from extra beds on wards, which is now a daily reality in many hospitals.”
Mr Doran concluded:
“The winter initiative, with its €40m ear-marked funding, is obviously necessary but further measures, with resources, are needed arising from this latest trolley watch analysis.”