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Record number of patients waiting for beds in MUH


Anton McNulty

A RECORD number of patients were left waiting for a bed in Mayo University Hospital during August, according to the latest INMO trolley-watch analysis.
The monthly report shows that 407 patients were left on trolleys in MUH during the month. This is the first time the monthly figures for August exceeded the 400 mark since the trolley watch campaign was launched by the The Irish Nurses and Midwife Organisation (INMO) in 2006. The hospital has seen an increase of 112 percent in its trolley-watch figures in just two years.
In 2021, the INMO recorded 290 patients waiting for a bed during August – then a record high – while 192 patients were recorded in 2020. The last time less than 100 patients were waiting for a bed in August was in 2014, when ten patients were recorded waiting for a bed. The lowest number was in 2011, when just eight were left without a bed.
The most overcrowded hospital in the month of August was University Hospital Galway, with 1,166 patients waiting for a bed. University Hospital Limerick was second-most overcrowded, with 1,130 patients. Of the other hospitals in the Saolta University Health Care Group, Sligo University Hospital was ranked fifth of the national hospitals, with 720 patients waiting for a bed.

In total, more than 9,600 patients went without a hospital bed in Irish hospitals in the month of August. INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the situation is worrying ahead of the busy winter season.
“The consistently high levels of overcrowding we have seen this summer are sounding the alarm for a very bleak winter ahead unless immediate action is taken by the Minister for Health and the HSE in the form of a fully funded winter plan,” she said.
“This plan should be published prior to the Emergency Taskforce reconvening on September. It is not good enough to publish a plan for winter when healthcare workers and patients are in the throes of a winter crisis.”
Limerick model
For the first time since September 2021, University Hospital Limerick is not the worst overcrowded hospital, and Phil Ní Sheaghdha believes that Limerick’s strategy must be replicated across the country.
UHL’s success, she said, ‘is due in part to the work of the expert team led by Dr Mike O’Connor’, which she said listened ‘to what nursing ward managers, staff nurses and nursing managers have been constantly saying’.
“Now this team are actioning into improving the operational processes in UHL, which has seen significant results. This has been achieved by ramping up the discharge and internal/external patient flow processes through robust implementation by the Review Team.
“What has been implemented in University Hospital Limerick in the last six weeks must be replicated in other hospitals with chronic overcrowding problems. It should not take [the INMO] and its members consistently shining a spotlight on problems with overcrowding for action to be taken.”

Covid pressure
Ní Sheaghdha also highlighted the strain on the system that is still being caused by Covid 19.  
“As we head into a winter of unknowns in our health service, the Minister for Health and senior HSE management must make it their business to take every step that they can to protect nurses, midwives and patients,” she said.
“We know that over 1,171 healthcare workers have contracted Covid in the past four weeks. It is vital now that the booster and flu vaccines are provided to healthcare workers. The health and safety of our healthcare workforce and patients depends on it.”