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Hospital overcrowding has remained on a record level throughout August, with an increase of 27 per cent this year admitted on trolleys (7,781) compared to August 2016 (6,136).

The latest trolley/ward watch figures, from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) were released ahead of Monday’s meeting of the national Emergency Department Implementation Group.

The INMO intend to seek implementation of all emergency measures identified in the taskforce report, launched in 2015, at the meeting.

A further serious indication of the growing crisis is the fact that in the first 8 months of the year 65,455 people were admitted for care but had no bed. This represents a 7 per cent increase on 2016 and a staggering 90 per cent increase on 10 years ago.

The hospitals that experienced the highest levels of overcrowding, in August, were; University Hosptial Limerick (835 compared to 32 in 2007), University Hospital Galway (643 comapred to 123 in 2007), South Tipperary General Hospital (489 compared to 82 in 2007), University Hospital Waterford (486 compared to 0 in 2007), Cork University Hospital (457 compared to 189 in 2007), Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore (452 compared to 2 in 2007), and Mater Hospital Dublin (436 compared to 315 in 2007).

The INMO welcomed the recent comments from Minister for Health confirming the need for a major increase in the capacity of the health service. The organisation stated: “What is now required is for the whole of government to provide additional resources to allow this increase in bed and service capacity, over the next three years.

INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran, criticised the HSE’s failure to tackle this issue: There is no doubt that the level of attention required to manage trolley overcrowding has dropped in recent months.

“The abnormal, and very harmful and detrimental, effects, of overcrowding, are no longer viewed as requiring urgent action as the HSE focuses on measuring and counting the problem rather than addressing it.

“It is clear that setting of targets, whether they be for patients over 75, patients waiting to be seen or patients waiting for a decision to admit/discharge has not had any positive effect upon the management of the overcrowding crisis.

“The monitoring and reporting of the targets has now become the priority for management rather than the actions necessary to protect patients and frontline staff”, Mr Doran claimed.