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INMO to consider action as figures confirm January as worst ever month for hospital overcrowding

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley Watch Figures show that 12,201 people waited on trolleys in Emergency Departments or on additional beds placed throughout hospitals during the month of January.

This is an 18% increase over the numbers in January 2017, and is a 128% increase on the numbers recorded in 2007.

The most overcrowded hospital in the Eastern region was St Vincent’s University Hospital with 559 people waiting on trolleys and 1,003 were recorded for the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, the highest outside Dublin.

Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght recorded an additional 192 children, waiting on trolleys, during January.

Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary said: "This is an incredible level of overcrowding and the appalling conditions experienced in Emergency Departments are now beyond anything we have ever seen.

"It now amounts to a humanitarian crisis for patients and a risk-rich environment for those trying to work in such chaotic conditions."

According to the INMO, the HSE agreed with the INMO in February 2016 that when a third of Emergency Department trolleys were occupied by in-patients, "this was their indicator to take action to protect the health and safety of staff".

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said: “Health employers have completely fallen down on their statutory obligation to provide a safe place of work.”

She also pointed out that Section 8 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act requires employers to carry out risk assessments and put in place mitigating measures to avoid those risks, but she revealed that there was no evidence of this.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said: "INMO members cannot be expected to tolerate such appalling and dangerous working environments and, at this point, many members of the public are openly asking the nurses how they could tolerate such a situation.

"It seems to us that all standards with regard to fire safety, personal protection, infection control and hygiene have gone out the window and no statutory authority or employer is prepared to look in.

"In those circumstances the INMO will have to take the necessary steps to protect the safety, health and welfare of our members."

She went on to say that INMO members will meet on Tuesday next week to discuss the situation and their response.

She said: "Nurse representatives from all over the country will participate in the meeting and it is expected that the INMO will face calls for action to defend their members and the public."