Nurses Union Says Overcrowding and Covid make for “Toxic Combination”

Nurse - Face Shield - Courtesy of INMO

New figures from the INMO show that across the country, 221 patients are on trolleys – the highest figure since COVID restrictions were introduced in March.

The union has warned that overcrowding and COVID-19 make for a “toxic combination”, increasing the risk of infection, and endangering staff and patients alike.

Fifty patients are on trolleys without beds in Cork University Hospital.

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
  • Expansion of step-down facility capacity

The worst-hit hospitals include:

  1. Cork University Hospital: 50
  2. University Hospital Limerick: 41
  3. Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar: 25
  4. Mayo University Hospital: 22
  5. Sligo University Hospital: 14
  6. Crumlin children’s hospital: 13

Trolley Count_02 September 2020

INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork University Hospital, Liam Conway, said:

“COVID and overcrowding make for a toxic combination. This is a deadly virus and our frontline members are rightly worried for their safety and that of their patients. Infection control is necessarily 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, especially ahead of the annual winter surge. We need to fund extra beds, expand step-down care, and fund additional home care packages. And this all needs a funded workforce plan to recruit additional nurses and midwives immediately.”