Trolley count spirals at Portlaoise and other Dublin Midlands hospitals

More than 8,000 trollies used at two hospitals earmarked to fill gap if Portlaoise A&E is downgraded

portlaoise a&e hospital dublin midlands

Trolley numbers spiral at Portlaoise and other hospitals.

The number of trollies at Portlaoise and other €1 billion funded hospitals in Dublin and the Midlands has jumped by nearly a quarter or more than 3,300 so far this year compared to 2016.

The figures are contained in the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley/Ward Watch figures, for the month of October and to date in 2017. The INMO says the level of overcrowding, arising from admitted patients being left on trolleys in Emergency Departments, or wards, continues to reach record levels.

Figures for the the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG) are listed. The group includes hospitals in Laois, Offaly, Kildare and Dublin which provided local, regional and national services. To date in 2017 the number of trollies has jumped from 14,203 to 17,541 - a 23.5% increase. All of these patients had to be left on trollies because no bed could be found in the hospitals.

The number of trollies deployed at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise to the end of October reached 2,870 compared to 2,747 last year. The Laois hospital had the third highest trolley count in the DMHG.

Tallaght hospital is the busiest with 4,107 followed closely by Tullamore with 4,093. Under a new HSE plan many of the 40,000 people who present to Portlaoise A&E each year would be diverted to these two hospitals emergency departments. Tallaght's trolley numbers are up by more than 500 on 2016.


A total of 2,763 had to be left on trollies in Naas General while the country's biggest hospital, St James, needed trollies for 1,854 patients so far this year - up just under 500 on last year.

Tullamore hospital was extremely busy in October. Some 422 patients had to be put on trollies in the Offaly hospital  just short 425 accommodated on trollies in Tallaght in west Dublin. It was a relatively quiet month in Portlaoise with 136 trollies used in A&E and wards.

A recent new five year Strategy for the DMHG hospitals says annual funding is now over €1 billion treating more than 800,000 annually. It wants to downgrade Portlaoise and concentrate resources in Tallaght and Tullamore.


Nationally nurses say the latest figures confirm the following:

  • In October there were 8,903 patients, admitted for care, for whom there was no in-patient beds.
  • This represents a 15% increase when compared to October 2016; and
  • In the first 10 months of this year (January to October) there were 82,459 patients, admitted for care, with no in-patient bed available.
  • This represents an 8% increase, on the first 10 months of 2016, and a 96% increase in the first 10 months of 2007.

The INMO say figures also confirm that, in October, the levels of overcrowding, in Dublin hospitals, had increased, when compared to October 2016. This follows a number of months when, in Dublin, levels of overcrowding had reduced.

However in hospitals, outside of Dublin, the situation continues to deteriorate, significantly, with record levels both in the month of October and in the 10 months of the year to date.

 In the month of October the hospitals with the highest number patients, on trolleys, were:

  • University Hospital Limerick:                        719
  • University Hospital Galway:                          679
  • Cork University Hospital:                               635
  • South Tipperary General Hospital:              546
  • St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny:                           495

 However the figures also show very marked increases in other hospitals including:

  • Wexford General Hospital – from 55 in October 2016 to 241 in October 2017;
  • Letterkenny University Hospital – from 121 in October 2016 to 459 in October 2017.

The INMO says it meet with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), on 30th November 2017, following a request for unannounced inspections of all Emergency Departments/Wards. At this meeting the INMO will again be calling upon the HSA to issue directions to ensure nursing, and other frontline staff, have a safe working environment.  The nurses say it is not acceptable that staff should have to work, in such overcrowded environments, on a daily basis.

Commenting on the latest figures INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said:

“These figures, yet again, confirm the obvious reality that our public health service is critically short of acute hospital beds, which is having a serious, detrimental and harmful effect upon patient care. It is imperative, as we enter the winter period, that all hospitals are empowered and supported to allow  the following:

  • Open all available beds;
  • Introduce incentivised packages to recruit and retain the required numbers of additional nursing staff to allow for the opening of these beds and ensure safe staffing in all EDs and wards;
  • Initiate rostered attendance, by senior clinical decision makers, over the extended day 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., over the seven day cycle;
  • Ensure all available transitional and long term care beds, home care packages and home help hours, as required, without a waiting list, are available to all community nursing management/services.

"In order to address this crisis there cannot be any restriction, on the funds available to increase the capacity of the health service, as we enter the winter period," said the INMO general secretary

The Emergency Department Taskforce is scheduled to meet on 4th December 2017.  The INMO said it will be seeking confirmation, at this meeting, that all of the foregoing measures, together with any other initiatives necessary to address this crisis, have been introduced across the system.

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