In November 2020, in response to the decision by the authorities reimpose a raft of ineffective restrictions, we ran a story which highlighted (contrary to public perception) that our hospitals had never been as empty.
The story can be found here: Covid19 – Hospitals Have Never Been As Empty | WexfordToday.com
That story contained a table outlining the number of patients waiting on chairs or trolleys, as published each morning by the INMO. Those ‘trolley watch’ figures showed that in comparison to the previous 5 years, our hospitals had never been as empty.
Almost 14 months on from that story, we have updated the table with recent trolley watch figures. For the sake of fair comparison we compare figures for the 2nd Thursday in each month for the last 6 years.
|2nd Thurs in December||391||256||589||460||461||447|
|2nd Thurs in November||397||160||571||525||433||410|
|2nd Thurs in October||438||216||487||483||483||313|
|2nd Thurs in September||402||170||454||350||354||407|
|2nd Thurs in August||254||159||463||442||351||232|
|2nd Thurs in July||282||107||426||296||341||366|
|2nd Thurs in June||251||57||404||376||384||245|
|2nd Thurs in May||206||74||417||449||320||378|
|2nd Thurs in April||214||27||489||548||345||431|
|2nd Thurs in March||169||106||444||614||458||511|
|2nd Thurs in February||126||456||465||500||477||388|
|2nd Thurs in January||168||520||500||544||509||443|
As can be seen from this table, in January 2021 when the government decided to close schools, there were 350 fewer people waiting on trollies/chairs in Irish hospitals than there were in the previous January when schools opened just fine.
At no stage during 2021 did numbers waiting on trolleys or chairs reach pre-covid 2019 levels.
These trolley watch figures also show that our hospitals were under the most pressure in the winter of 2019/2020, with figures for November 2019, December 2019 and January 2020 being 195 higher than for the same months the previous year. This perhaps adds to the mounting evidence indicating that Covid-19 was with us throughout the winter of 2019, without the need for a myriad of oppressive restrictions.
In our 2020 article we posed a number of questions about what these trolley watch figures might indicate, and those questions are still worth considering:
- In normal years, are there too many people in our hospital system who do not actually need to in hospital at all? Can patients in our health system be managed in a more suitable way?
- How many people since March 2020 have not received the proper treatment in hospital that they would have received in previous years? What will be the knock-on effects? Perhaps more people will die from having appointments cancelled or missed diagnosis than have died from Covid19 itself.
- Has the impact of Covid19 on our hospital system been greatly exaggerated?