Over 9,000 patients were left in wheelchairs and chairs in Irish hospitals across the country last month, with one hospital crossing the 1000-mark, as numbers showed.
According to the latest Trolley Watch data from Irish nurses and midwifery organizations (INMO), 9 055 patients were left on wheelchairs and chairs last month, making it the worst October since INMO began recording this data in 2006.
In October 2006, more than 4,000 patients were on wheelchairs, so last month's figures have risen by 124% since then.
The worst hospital last month was the university hospital Limerick, in which 1,045 patients were in wheelchairs. Another five hospitals had over 500 wheelchair patients. They were:
– University Hospital in Galway – 716
-Cork University Hospital – 647
-Letterkenny University Hospital – 572
– University Hospital – 519
– University Waterford Hospital – 512
INMO also expressed concern about overcrowding in smaller hospitals. For example, 474 patients were left at South Tipperary General Hospital – almost three times more than the total hospital capacity.
"More than 9,000 patients are forced to wait in wheelchairs, and this is not even the peak of the winter season. These numbers do not sufficiently reflect the difficulties faced by patients who are under these circumstances, but the negative health effects of this overcrowding are known, but this is not addressed as a national priority, "commented INMO Secretary General Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
She said that currently the health service is simply unable to deal with it. However, although the government accepts the need for more beds, "opening extra beds requires additional nurses, but low pay means that there is no immediate prospect of employing additional nurses or maintaining existing nurses."
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