A record number of patients are awaiting admission to a hospital bed at Limerick University Hospital, according to INMO.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization said 97 patients – 54 in the ER and a further 43 elsewhere in the hospital – are on the daily INMO Trolley Watch List.
This is the highest since November 16, when 95 patients were recorded as waiting in a hospital bed.
The hospital is often listed as the most overcrowded hospital in the country, with high daily patient numbers in the emergency room and wards.
Cork University Hospital is the second largest hospital with 57 patients waiting and University Hospital Galway has 48 patients waiting to be admitted to a hospital bed.
INMO has asked the Health Information and Quality Authority to investigate the problem of overcrowding at UHL.
Mary Fogarty, INMO Deputy Director for Industrial Relations, said: “Today’s carriage numbers at University Hospital Limerick are extremely worrying. University Hospital Limerick is consistently the most overcrowded hospital in Ireland.
“Despite significant investments in the hospital’s capacity, the hospital’s ongoing problem of overcrowding will not be affected. Overcrowding puts additional stress on staff and degrades patient care. This is a high risk in normal times, but even more so during a pandemic.” .
“INMO once again calls on HIQA to urgently investigate the problem of hospital overcrowding and make recommendations.
“The patients and nurses at University Hospital Limerick deserve better than these conditions. It has been an extremely difficult 22 months since Covid first arrived on our shores, but UHL has already been overwhelmed without dealing with the hand of a pandemic.
“Staff, patients and the wider Limerick community need to be reassured that the long-standing problems at UHL are being resolved.”
Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive has said current guidance on visiting acute care hospitals and nursing homes remains in place.
It states that healthcare facilities differ significantly from other contexts where people gather for work or social interaction.
The HSE said people with infectious Covid-19 who need medical care may need to visit health facilities that pose a risk of infection.
It added that many of those most vulnerable to the consequences of Covid-19 infection also work in healthcare.
For this reason, compared to other facilities, “a greater degree of caution is required in healthcare facilities”.
Across the healthcare system, visiting is being temporarily suspended in many cases, but exceptions are being made in certain circumstances, including for maternity services, out of compassion, or when a patient is in intensive care.
Details of the different visiting restrictions for each hospital can be found on the HSE website.
The HSE said the guidance will be regularly reviewed and updated, and recent NPHET decisions will be considered when reviewing the guidance.
The Irish Patients Association has said overcrowding in emergency departments is increasing the pain and suffering caused by patients whose surgeries are cancelled.
Canceling surgeries in response to overcrowding should be an exception and not part of day-to-day management of patient flow.
Additional coverage Fergal Bowers