Over 9,600 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide last month, making it the worst November on record for overcrowding.
According to the latest ‘Trolley Watch' figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), a total of 9,679 patients were left waiting on trolleys and chairs last month.
This marked an 11% increase on the same period in 2017 and a staggering 107% increase on the same period in 2006, when the INMO starting collecting these figures. That year, 4,671 patients were left waiting on trolleys during the month of November.
The worst hit hospital last month was University Hospital Limerick, with 1,071 admitted patients left waiting for beds. This marks the 18th month in a row that Limerick has had the worst overcrowding.
It was followed by Cork University Hospital (932), University Hospital Galway (676), Letterkenny University Hospital (581), Tallaght University Hospital (559), the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore (549) and the Mater Hospital in Dublin (436).
A total of 157 children were also left waiting on trolleys and chairs last month, with the highest figure in Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin (83).
The INMO insisted that a lot of this overcrowding is due to understaffing, caused primarily by low pay for nurses and midwives.
"Behind each number is a vulnerable patient suffering in poor conditions, with overworked staff pulling out all the stops to provide the best possible care. This year is already the worst year on record for patients on trolleys and there are still several weeks to go. January and February are typically the worst months, so nurses and midwives will be looking to the New Year with a sense of dread," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
She added that this is no longer ‘just a winter problem, it's a year-round problem'.
"The health service needs more beds. Extra beds require extra nurses, but the HSE simply can't hire enough on these wage levels," she said.