220 on trolleys last October. This year, it was down to SIX
WEXFORD General Hospital has recorded the best improvement in the number of patients being treated without having to use a trolley in the country.
In October 2014, 220 patients were treated on trolleys, compared to just six this year for the month. Up until October 31 of this year Wexford General had 1,277 patients on trolleys, compared to 960 in 2014, while the peak year for patients on trolleys was 3,512.
Ireland East Hospital Group spokesperson Caroline Kohn said: 'Wexford has seen a significant improvement in terms of patient flow through the hospital in the last year.
'This is due to the Ireland East Hospital Group enabling us to open up 15 new beds in February of this year along with the opening of the new emergency department.'
Clinical director with Wexford General Hospital Dr Colm Quigley said the addition of 15 new permanent beds which were obtained through the Winter Initiative has helped nurses and doctors with the throughput of patients.
'We have a lot more temporary staff, about 50 more nurses compared with last year, so our staffing levels are getting back to our 2010 level.'
We had four trolley spaces in the emergency department four years ago and six beds and now w have 17 trolleys for patients and ten beds. We have greater floor space and two resuscitation rooms, as opposed to one before.
'We have three operating theatres, up one from before. We have changed the old beds from the 1970s. From a patient's viewpoint there is much more privacy in the emergency department.
'Our new maternity suite is up to 2020 standards. This affords mothers more dignity when giving birth, as they can give birth often in a room of their own. We face challenges at different times when there is a massive influx of patients, but our capacity to handle the surges is better as we have more staff available.'
Dr Quigley said the additional staff assessing patients, combined with a fourth radiologist, has enabled management to streamline the patients going through the emergency department. He said the staff have bedded in and are working well together, which was reflected in improving trolley figures, culminating in the figure of six patients on trolleys last month at Wexford General.
Dr Quigley said plans are in place to speed up the amount of time patients have to spend in the emergency department.
'It will take time for us to do that simply because our staff compared to other hospitals in the country is much less.
'We have one of the most efficient hospitals in the country in terms of our staffing and our funding. It has been acknowledged by the HSE that we have been underfunded.'
This compares with 544 patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital in October, 353 patients in the Midlands Regional Hospital, 349 patients on trolleys at St Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny and 217 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Waterford.
Cllr Michael Sheehan said: 'I welcome the fact the trolley numbers in Wexford have fallen dramatically but express my concern at the regional hospital in Ardkeen is up 55 per cent as many residents in New Ross would travel to Ardkeen as a first option.'