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“INMO Declares 2023 as the Worst Year on Record for Hospital Overcrowding”

In what the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) termed the “worst year on record for hospital overcrowding,” University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has maintained its status as the most overcrowded hospital in Ireland throughout the year. According to the INMO’s trolley watch figures, a staggering 121,526 patients were without a hospital bed in 2023, with UHL accounting for the highest proportion at 21,141.

Following UHL, Cork University Hospital ranked as the second most overcrowded hospital, with 12,387 patients awaiting beds during the year. Other notable hospitals on the list included University Hospital Galway (8,914), Sligo University Hospital (8,094), and St. Vincent’s University Hospital (6,555).

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha expressed concern about the persistent pressure on nurses and midwives, highlighting that the year had witnessed a continuation of overcrowding records from the previous year. She emphasized that 121,526 patients had been admitted without a bed, with a notable 24% increase in children on trolleys compared to the previous year.

Ní Sheaghdha criticized the recent recruitment freeze imposed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), stating that it would further demoralize an already burned-out and exhausted workforce. She stressed that reversing the impact of the recruitment embargo would take a considerable amount of time. Referring to a recent Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report highlighting compromised patient dignity in over 80% of inspected hospitals, Ní Sheaghdha called on the government and HSE to address the issue urgently. She pointed out that long delays, inadequate bed space, and unsafe staffing levels were hindering the provision of safe care, emphasising the need for action to tackle the root causes of hospital overcrowding.

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