Despite the opening of the long awaited new emergency department in May, University Hospital Limerick continued to have more patients on trollies in the month of June than any other Irish hospital.

According to the latest report from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), there were record levels of overcrowding during the first six months of 2017 as the number of patients on trolleys in the nation’s emergency departments increased by 6% on the same period last year. The figures also confirm that in the month of June there were 7,124 patients on trolleys, a 21% increase on June 2016.

Once again the Midwest and the West have been worst hit with UHL recording 640 patients on trolleys. Second worst was University Hospital Galway with 566 patients The latest figures follow a slight improvement in April but confirm an ever-growing demand for impatient services on a health service which continues to suffer from a shortage of beds and staff.

According to the INMO the most recent statistics confirm that these hospitals do not have the capacity necessary to provide the required services for both planned and emergency admissions.

Just like the economy in general, Dublin appears to be bucking the trend with the latest figures confirming a reduction in the numbers of patients on trolleys in Dublin, however a significant increase has taken place in hospitals outside of Dublin.

The INMO has also found that, in recent weeks, a number of emergency departments have endured severe nursing staff shortages due to a combination of vacant posts, staff leave and inability to provide emergency staffing through agencies. These shortages have compounded the negative impact upon patient care and created intolerable working conditions for staff in both emergency departments and wards.

Commenting on the issue, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said: “These figures represent further evidence that our health service, through inadequate bed and staffing levels, simply cannot cope with the demands being placed upon it.  The legitimate attempts to reduce waiting lists has only exacerbated the levels of overcrowding, with the indignity and loss of privacy that result, now taking place, in this peak summer period, in Emergency Departments and Wards across the country.  These figures confirm that hospitals cannot deal with both planned and emergency admissions at the same time confirming that our health service remains far too small.”

Ahead of planning for the peak winter period, Mr Doran said his union will seek confirmation that immediate steps will be taken, involving additional staff and bed capacity to address the current record levels of overcrowding.  He added, “The government and the HSE, in responding to these latest figures, must bring forward emergency measures, including resources, to immediately address this totally unacceptable situation.”