FIGURES released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have revealed that in 2019, almost 1,000 fewer patients were on trolleys waiting for a bed when compared with the previous year.
The figure for the past 12 months was 1,845, which compares with 2,815 in 2018 and 3,203 in 2017.
The largest number of patients lying on trolleys in Portlaoise hospital was in 2016, when the IMNO recorded 3,364.
The figures also show that in December 2019, 76 people were on trolleys awaiting beds compared with 231 for the same period in 2018. In December 2016, the figure stood at 359.
From 2009 to 2019, INMO figures show that in-patient beds in Portlaoise hospital fell from 140 to 135. In the same period, the number of day bed/places rose from nine to 17.
The INMO said that in all hospitals last year, 118,367 people went without hospital beds, 9% higher than in 2018, and described the numbers as “the worst-ever year for hospital overcrowding since records began”.
More than 1,300 of the patients were under the age of 16. The worst months for overcrowding in 2019 were November (12,055), October (11,452) and September (10,641).
The INMO said that under-staffing and a lack of capacity were the leading factors to overcrowding in our hospitals.
Commenting on the figures, INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Things are getting worse, not better. These figures should be falling, but we’re going in the wrong direction. Last year saw thousands more patients without proper beds – often at one of the most vulnerable points in their lives.
“Overcrowding used to be a winter problem. Now it’s an all-year problem, which gets worse in winter.
“The most frustrating part is that we know how to solve this problem: increase staffing and bed capacity, expand community care and get going with the Sláintecare reforms.
“2020 should be a year where under-staffing and overcrowding are brought under control, but that simply won’t happen without investment and an end to the recruitment ban,” concluded Ms Ní Sheaghdha.