“Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe has the most pressurised Emergency Department in the Country due to the lack of available beds” claims local TD, Denis Naughten.
The true extent of the chaos being faced by staff at Portiuncula Hospital has been revealed in a nationwide analysis of the hospital trolley numbers reflected as a percentage of overall numbers of beds available to each hospital by Denis Naughten TD.
The figures show there were just eight beds in Portiuncula Hospital for every patient on a trolley in the hospital on average last month, whereas at the other end of the scale there were 215 beds in Tullamore Hospital for every patient on a trolley. It was therefore 27 times more likely that a patient on a trolley in Tullamore would get a bed than a similar patient in Portiuncula Hospital.
An analysis of the trolley numbers by Denis Naughten TD reveals that the hospitals and staff under the most pressure due to overcrowding were not the ones with the headline grabbing numbers but the smaller hospitals in Nenagh, Bantry, Ballinasloe, Kilkenny and Nass. But as neither Nenagh nor Bantry have an emergency department, it disappointingly puts Portiuncula at the top of a leader board on hospital chaos.
Even University Hospital, Limerick with record trolley numbers was under less severe pressure than Portiuncula Hospital, due to the fact that there were nine beds in University Hospital Limerick for every patient on a trolley.
Commenting on the figures Denis Naughten said: “If we delve down into the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys to date in 2023 and analyse this as a percentage of the number of beds in each hospital, we get a much better indication of the pressure that each hospital was under last month.
“The reason this is important is because while I have no doubt the HSE will put the hospitals with the big numbers at the top of their agenda, it is feared that the smaller hospitals under the most pressure will be ignored because this is what has happened up to now.
“Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, as just one example, put a proposal to the HSE and Department of Health nearly three years ago to provide a modular extension to the Emergency Department to ease the overcrowding. To date no decision has been made on this proposal because clearly it is not high enough up the HSE agenda.
“Other hospitals have put forward simple measures to deal with the challenges that they are facing, which would not only ease pressure on our hospital system but ensure that patients get safer and more timely care,” concluded Denis Naughten.
This is what I said in the Dáil to An Taoiseach last month and his reply with regard to Portiuncula: https://youtu.be/Ckm8CvWSkNI
|Hospital||Total beds||Average trolley numbers
|Trolley no’s as % of bed capacity|
|Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore||215||1||0.6%|
|University Hospital Waterford||444||3||0.7%|
|Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown||307||3||1.1%|
|Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise||139||3||2.0%|
|Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda||427||10||2.2%|
|St James’ Hospital||679||19||2.9%|
|Mater Misericordiae University Hospital||708||25||3.5%|
|Cavan General Hospital||229||10||4.3%|
|Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar||194||9||4.8%|
|St Vincent’s University Hospital||543||27||4.9%|
|University College Hospital Galway||662||35||5.2%|
|Tallaght University Hospital||463||26||5.5%|
|Mayo University Hospital||283||16||5.6%|
|Wexford General Hospital||227||13||5.8%|
|South Tipperary General Hospital||208||12||5.9%|
|Children’s Health Ireland (Temple St , Tallaght and Crumlin)||345||21||6.1%|
|Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan||90||6||7.1%|
|Mercy University Hospital, Cork||194||14||7.3%|
|University Hospital Kerry||252||20||7.8%|
|Letterkenny University Hospital||366||29||8.0%|
|Cork University Hospital||650||53||8.2%|
|Sligo University Hospital||285||27||9.5%|
|Mid Western Regional Hospital, Ennis||50||5||10.8%|
|University Hospital, Limerick||515||56||10.9%|
|Naas General Hospital||184||21||11.2%|
|St Lukes Hospital, Kilkenny||228||26||11.2%|
|Portiuncula University Hospital||157||20||12.8%|
|Bantry General Hospital||46||6||14.0%|
|Nenagh General Hospital||52||8||14.6%|
Source: Analysis of Trolley_numbers_Jan_23 & source of bed numbers – parliamentary reply
Note on table:
Trolley numbers – Jan 2023
Taken from the INMO’s trolley watch figures which are reported every morning at 8 am, the following is a comparison of the average number of patients waiting on trollies in each hospital in Ireland across the month of Jan 2023, and is expressed as a percentage of total bed numbers in each hospital.
While it might seem at first glance that for example University Hospital Limerick with an average of 56, people waiting on trollies, Cork University hospital, with an average of 53, or University Hospital Galway with an average of 35, were the most overcrowded, if you look further into the figures you can see a different story.
Each hospital has a different number of beds and staffing levels to deal with those beds so this is taken as the base value and the average number of people waiting in trollies in each hospital is expressed as a percentage of the bed capacity in that hospital.
The Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore comes out top in both comparisons with only 1 person on average per day, waiting on a trolley across the month, a figure which represents 0.6% of the total bed capacity. On the other end of the scale Portiuncula University Hospital, Bantry General Hospital and Nenagh General Hospital had, respectively, 20, 6 and 8 persons waiting on trollies, which, if expressed as a percentage of their total bed capacity is 12.8%, 14.0% and 14.6%.
It should be noted that Bantry and Nenagh do not have an Emergency Department and instead have an injury unit and medical assessment unit.
So to go back to the hospitals with the biggest numbers of people waiting on trollies; University Hospital Limerick with 56, Cork University hospital, 53, and University Hospital Galway 35 . When these figures are expressed as a percentage of bed capacity they are as follows: University Hospital Limerick 10.9%, Cork University hospital 8.2%, University Hospital Galway 5.%