Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has expressed concern following another dramatic rise in the number of people waiting on trolleys in hospital Emergency Departments. The latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show there are 518 people waiting on trolleys in Emergency Departments across the country, with 54 people awaiting admission at University Hospital Limerick.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “Once again, we see the situation in our Emergency Department reaching critical levels, and there is now a real fear that the numbers on trolleys could match or even exceed the record breaking 601 figure, which was registered last month. Despite having predicted a worsening of the situation, Minister Leo Varadkar’s response has been unbelievably muted. The Emergency Department Taskforce has only held three meetings to date, despite the escalating crisis.
“Any measures which were being considered when the crisis had reached its peak in early January appear to have stalled, and now the trolley figures are on the rise once again. We cannot afford to have a repeat of the scenes which were witnesses last month, when people were being deprived of privacy and dignity, being treated in chairs or on trolleys in corridors in busy Emergency Departments. This is not the quality of care that patients should be faced with, when they are unwell and vulnerable.
“The Minister has failed to take adequate steps to address Emergency Department overcrowding, despite a range of measures being proposed by nursing and medical unions. The simple fact of the matter is there are not enough step-down beds, hospital beds and frontline medical staff to treat the increased number of patients creating an intolerable risk to patient safety.
“Additional resources must be allocated without delay if this situation is to be contained and managed effectively. If these measures are not forthcoming, the appalling situation facing patients in our Emergency Departments will continue to get worse”.