Hospital Overcrowding Must Become A Thing Of The Past - IHCA

A record number of patients were without a bed in Ireland's hospitals in 2019, according to the latest figures published this month.

Commenting on the figures, IHCA President, Donal O'Hanlon, said that the record numbers of people waiting for a public hospital outpatient appointments and admitted patients waiting on trolleys for a bed have been a reality "for too long and must become a thing of the past".

According to Mr O'Hanlon in 2019 over 118,000 patients found themselves waiting for a bed in hospital, along with over 560,000 people waiting for a hospital outpatient appointment – which is 205,000 (57%) up on 2013.

With over 500 permanent consultant vacancies unfilled, there is little to suggest that the current state of public hospitals will improve; while the Government pursues failed ideological policies instead of practical, workable solutions.

In December 2019, Minister for Health Simon Harris pledged an additional 190 beds to help ease pressure on emergency departments to be delivered by the end of January 2020 – but this is too little too late in terms of addressing the needs and demands currently faced. Our public hospitals are struggling with growing capacity deficits due to a decade of underinvestment.

IHCA President, Dr O'Hanlon said: "Ireland's health priorities for 2020 aren't new, but they are now more urgent than ever.

"The record numbers of people waiting for a hospital outpatient appointment and admitted patients being treated on trolleys while waiting for a bed have been a reality for too long and must become a thing of the past. Growing bed capacity shortages and consultant vacancies must be addressed immediately if we are to make real changes in 2020.

"Hundreds of thousands of people waiting for a hospital appointment and scenes of trolleys lined up in corridors are simply not acceptable in a developed society.

"We are now on the countdown to an election, but the solutions to our growing public hospital crises cannot wait for a new Government.

"Our nation's population doesn't need to hear about schemes, contracts, funding; what they need is their family and friends receiving the care required and getting it at the highest standards. This is possible.

"By filling vacant consultant posts with permanent staff, investing in adequate bed capacity, and establishing a collaborative environment between Government, hospital consultants and frontline staff, we will create the capacity to deliver timely, high-quality, safe care to the population – which is currently not the case.

"Last year, the Minister for Health committed to meeting with the IHCA in January to end the discrimination against new entrant consultants. We look forward to this meeting and firmly believe that the practical, workable solutions being proposed by the IHCA and its consultants have a valuable role to play in getting the system right."


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