Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney has expressed alarm following new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation which reveals that 670 people were left on trolleys at University Hospital Galway in June – a 59% increase on last year.

Deputy Keaveney said, “The situation in Galway has been allowed to deteriorate over the past three years to a place where it is almost beyond repair.  Every month hundreds of people are being treated in crowded emergency rooms and packed wards as the Health Minister sits back without intervening.  This is causing much stress and anxiety not only for the patients themselves, who are being deprived of dignity in these exposed areas, but also for the frontline staff charged with their care.

“Patients are not receiving the quality of care that they deserve and I believe that patient care is being compromised as a result of this chronic overcrowding.  The fact that the number of patients on trolleys has risen by almost 60% in one year is a damning indictment of Minister Leo Varadkar’s inability to deal with the situation. He has failed to engage meaningfully with doctors, nurses and other frontline staff to address the core problems.  Despite warnings about the seriousness of the situation, the Minister set up a taskforce and took a backseat, preferring to give a running commentary on the seriousness of the situation without initiating tangible measures to improve the conditions in our Emergency Departments.

“Over the past three years, the number of people on trolleys in University Hospital Galway has jumped from 181 in 2013, to 422 in 2014 and stood at 670 last month.  This is completely unacceptable.  Services in Galway have not been sufficiently expanded to deal with the increased demand.  Units outside of UHG have been shut and have not been replaced, leading to a greater demand on the existing services.

“The status quo cannot be allowed to continue.  Patients are being compromised and urgent action is needed.  The entire health system is creaking under the strain and Emergency Departments are bearing the brunt of the burden.  Additional funding and resources across the health service must be allocated to ease the pressure.  Minister Varadkar needs to stop commentating and take immediate action to resolve this crisis”.