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Four Inishowen Alzheimer's beds still closed 19.01.12

592 patients treated on trolleys in Letterkenny in 2011

by Linda McGrory

FOUR beds remain closed at Inishowen's €2.7m Alzheimer’s unit in Carndonagh, new figures show.
The Ard Aoibheann centre, attached to Carndonagh Community Hospital, only opened five years ago but has already lost four patient places due to cutbacks in the health service. The beds were closed in 2010 - just three years after the unit was officially opened to great fanfare by the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in March 2007.
The 2011 figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives' Organisation (INMO) published yesterday, also show eight bed closures at Letterkenny Hospital and 20 care of the elderly bed closures at Lifford Hospital. There were 2,299 closed beds nationally as of yesterday, according to the INMO.
Meanwhile, a total of 592 patients were treated on trolleys at Letterkenny General Hospital last year. While this represented a sharp increase on the previous three years namely (388 in 2008); (378 in 2009) and (474 in 2010), it was a dramatic drop on the Letterkenny figures for 2006 and 2007 at 3,059 and 1,253 trolley waits respectively. Thirty-eight people were treated on trolleys last month in Letterkenny, a slight fall on December 2010 (42).
There were three patients waiting for a hospital bed yesterday in Letterkenny, the daily nurses' survey showed.
Letterkenny General Hospital
The INMO yesterday said its trolley watch survey for 2011 confirmed it was the worst year for patients on trolleys since the organisation commenced maintaining records in 2004.
The figures confirm that 86,481 patients who had been admitted to hospital, were left on a trolley waiting for a hospital bed. This represents an increase of 14% over the 2010 figure of 75,859.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the INMO identified, in mid 2011, that the numbers on trolleys were at record levels and were now "a daily reality in some hospitals".
"It is a reality that this level of overcrowding was as a direct result of a combination of increased demand for treatment, bed closures, cutbacks in community services and difficulties with the Fair Deal scheme.
"Against this very stark background the INMO welcomes the reduction in patients on trolleys in December. This reduction came about as a result of the opening of closed beds, ring fenced funding for some community supports and the prioritisation of this problem, by local management, under the direction of the new Special Delivery Unit. This work is welcome and must be continued throughout 2012,” said Mr Doran.
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