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Overcrowding and Covid are 'toxic combination' as 221 left on trolleys

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

There were 13 children on trolleys in Dublin yesterday as Emergency Departments across the country suffered their worst day of overcrowding since the start of March.

The children were on trolleys in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.

The figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed hospitals had the largest number of patients waiting for a bed since the start of the pandemic.

Up to 221 patients were on trolleys - signalling the start of autumn and winter gridlock.

There were 50 patients without a bed at Cork University Hospital.

Pledged

The INMO warned that overcrowding and Covid-19 make for a "toxic combination", increasing the risk of infection, and endangering staff and patients.

In a May 2020 letter to the INMO, the HSE pledged "overcrowded health and social care facilities will no longer be tolerated". The union is calling for direct Government intervention to fulfil that pledge, including:

• Additional home care packages.

• Higher staffed bed capacity.

• An expansion of step-down facility capacity.

The worst-hit hospitals for trolleys yesterday included:

• Cork University Hospital - 50 patients waiting.

• University Hospital Limerick - 41.

• Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar - 25.

• Mayo University Hospital - 22.

• Sligo University Hospital - 14.

• Crumlin Children's Hospital - 13.

"Covid and overcrowding make for a toxic combination," said Liam Conway, INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork University Hospital.

"This is a deadly virus and our frontline members are rightly worried for their safety and that of their patients.

"Infection control is compromised in a hospital with patients in corridors and on trolleys.

"The HSE assured us that there would be no tolerance of overcrowding during Covid, yet no actions have been taken and we are sleepwalking back to mass overcrowding.

"It is time for direct Government intervention.

"We need to fund extra beds, expand step-down care, fund additional home care packages.

"This all needs a funded workforce plan to recruit additional nurses and midwives immediately."