Kilkenny TD says HSE trolley figures are being 'manipulated'

McGuinness raises accuracy of trolley figures with Health Minister

Brendan Kelly Palenque


Brendan Kelly Palenque



The graph shows discrepancies in the figures being released to the public.

Trolley figures at St Luke’s Hospital supplied by the HSE are being 'manipulated', local TD John McGuinness has claimed.

Deputy McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Simon Harris what the reason was for the increase in overcrowding in St Luke’s Hospital’s emergency department.

The Minister stated that trolley numbers in St Luke’s Hospital had decreased, yet figures analysed by the Kilkenny People (see graph) show discrepancies in the figures being released to the public.

“In relation St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny, the first four months of the year saw a decrease in trolley number of 16.9%, 301 less trolleys, than the same period last year,” the Minister said.

He was quoting the HSE’s TrolleyGar statistics. However, these figures aren’t in line with those from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

When asked about the discrepancy, Deputy McGuinness said: “The figures are being manipulated by the Department/HSE.
“On the ground, in each Hospital, the situation is far worse that the stats portray. ‘Lies, dammed lies and then statistics’.”

“The HSE is a mess. To find a solution you must firstly look truth in the eye - something the HSE refuses to do.”

The INMO keeps a trolley watch, which counts trolleys in the emergency department.
It also keeps a ward watch, which counts the number of additional patients on beds, trolleys or chairs, on inpatient wards above the stated amount of that ward.

According to their trolley watch, 725 people were on trollies in the first four months of 2017. In the first four months of 2018, that number was 858.

That’s an increase of 133 people, or 18.3, year on year.  If the INMO’s ward watch numbers are added on, the number jumps to 1,472 people in the first four months of 2017. In the equivalent 2018 timeframe, it’s 2,245 people. This again shows an increase in trolley numbers, this time by 773 people, or 52.5 percent.

Three times daily
TrolleyGar counts trolley figures three times a day, while the INMO only counts once a day, meaning a direct comparison can’t be made. However, indirect comparisons can be made by getting an average of the three TrolleyGar figures.
TrolleyGar statistics show the highest number of people on trolleys in the first quarter of the year in a single day was an average of 28 people, on January 3, 2017.

The INMO’s highest trolley watch number in that timeframe is 26 people on January 2, 2018. Adding in the ward watch figure brings it to 57 people.

The Department of Health’s press office explained that there are several reasons for the discrepancy between the INMO and TrolleyGar statistics. As mentioned before, the INMO records trolley numbers once a day, while TrolleyGar does it three times a day. The INMO also doesn’t count on weekends, St Patrick’s day and Easter.

Additionally, the INMO sometimes counts trolley inpatient beds being used as surge beds or designated beds being used for patients that the INMO has staffing concerns about. TrolleyGar does not count this.