Almost 400 people have been left waiting on trollies to be admitted to Portlaoise Hospital in the first four months of this year, while more than 40 nursing home beds were shut in Abbeyleix, Mountmellick and Shaen hospitals.
The latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Union, which were released last week, showed that 381 patients were waiting on trollies from January to April this year.
Although this is a reduction on the 2011 figure of 492 people for the same period, it is a 400% increase on the first four months of 2010.
However, the situation is a lot worse for the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, where patients from Laois would also be treated.
A staggering 630 patients had to wait for a bed to become available this year. This is a reduction of 120 people from last year, but it is more than six times the 2010 figure.
Nationally there was an overall reduction, in the first four months of 2012 compared with 2011, of 17 per cent.
But despite the large numbers of people on trollies at times in the hospital, there are no beds closed in the hospital now. Almost 60 beds have been closed in Tullamore.
However, there are over 40 non-acute beds closed in Laois. There are 18 beds closed in Abbeyleix, 12 in St Brigid’s Hospital, Shaen and 12 beds in St Vincent’s Hospital, Mountmellick.
According to the INMO, since January a number of initiatives were introduced in Portlaoise to reduce the number of people waiting on trollies to be admitted to the hospital.
These include ward rounds every morning, beginning at 8am and the co-ordinated discharge of patients over the weekends.
Lorraine Monaghan, Industrial Relations Officer for Portlaoise Hospital explains: “Patients are discharged by other teams, and not left waiting until Monday. Those that can be discharged are identified by their own team on each Friday.
“There is also estimated lengths of stay on admission, basically working towards a discharge date on date of admission and making sure that all tests etc are done in between.
According to the INMO, management team meetings are held every morning at 9am with nursing management and bed management to look at Emergency Department activity and hospital activity.
“There is also a formal hospital management meeting every Monday to review the previous week’s activity, see what worked, what didn’t work.”