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According to figures released to the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information legislation, the number of direct WTE portering staff in August was 552.38, up from 525.7 in December 2014, at acute hospitals run by the HSE.
The statistics comprise staff graded as porters, head porters, theatre porters and theatre technician/porters.
MI understands some hospitals use attendants or healthcare assistants to move patients and equipment rather than porters, as part of a wider job description.
The figures showed that Cork University Hospital (CUH) had the highest number of portering WTEs at 141.9, up from 134.8 in December.
The second highest number of WTEs was at Galway University Hospitals at 98.5.
The HSE statistics recorded much lower numbers at Our Lady’s Hospital Navan (0.6), Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise (1.0), Croom Hospital (1.2) as well as Naas General Hospital and Nenagh General Hospital with 2.0 WTE s each.
A HSE South spokesperson, in response to the figures for CUH, noted that it was “the largest university teaching hospital in Ireland”. He said it was the only Level 1 Trauma Centre in the country “due to the presence of over 40 different medical and surgical specialties on the campus” and had “expanded tremendously” in the past five years.
“The current portering levels are well below those of mid-2000. We have a very dedicated group of staff, who must continuously adapt to the needs of the healthcare service users which Cork University, Cork University Maternity, and the Cardiac Renal Centre serves,” the spokesperson commented.
Porters on the CUH campus provided their services “to highly specialised areas which are considered in other hospitals to be non-portering duties, such as theatre, laboratories, orthopaedics, and stores”, the spokesperson said.