HOSPITAL overcrowding hit its worst-ever year in 2019, according to analysis by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
118,367 patients went without hospital beds in 2019, the INMO has said, 9% higher than 2018 and the worst year for hospital overcrowding since records began. Of those, 4,206 were at Naas General Hospital (compared to 3,754 in 2018).
The INMO figures for Naas in December 2019 are also quite stark at 342; the previous December it was 135 and just 23 back in December 2006.
Overall, more than 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).
The INMO has pointed to understaffing and a lack of capacity as key drivers of overcrowding, adding that there are 411 fewer inpatient beds in Ireland’s hospitals today than a decade ago, despite a larger, older population.
“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,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“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.”