Overcrowding at University Hospital Waterford soars by over 30%
A total of 6,313 patients at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) were left without a bed last year, worrying new figures reveal.
This represents a major increase of over 30% on the 4,319 patients left languishing on trolleys at UHW in 2018.
The figures are revealed in an end-of-year analysis compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The INMO analysis confirmed 2019 was the worst-ever year for hospital overcrowding since records began – some 9% higher than 2018.
Over 1,300 of the patients were children younger than 16. The worst months for overcrowding in 2019 were November (12,055), October (11,452), and September (10,641).
UHW was the fifth worst hospital on the country for overcrowding, behind University Hospital Limerick (13,941), Cork University Hospital (11,066), University Hospital Galway (7,993) and South Tipperary General Hospital (6,942).
The INMO said understaffing and a lack of capacity are the key factor driving overcrowding on our hospitals. There are 411 fewer inpatient beds in Ireland’s hospitals today than a decade ago, despite a larger, older population.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha warned: “Things are getting worse, not better. These figures should be falling, but we’re going the wrong direction. 2019 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.
“Instead, the HSE continues to enforce its rigid recruitment controls, starving hospitals and community services of the staff they need. Our members are rightly appalled by the conditions they are forced to work and care for patients in.
“2020 should be a year where understaffing and overcrowding are brought under control, but that simply won’t happen without investment and an end to the recruitment ban.”