Last December, I convened the emergency department task force to assist in dealing with the challenges presented by emergency department overcrowding. Significant progress has been made to date. The special delivery unit, SDU, figures showed an 8% decrease in the number of patients on trolleys in November 2015 compared with November 2014. While the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, figures for the month of November showed a 4% rise, it is significant that the nursing union's own figures also showed an 8% decrease in the second half of that month. This indicates that we are headed in the right direction. The numbers for November, whichever are used, are a considerable change from August when overcrowding was 20% to 40% worse than in August 2014. It is clear that the situation is not as bad as it was in the early new year when there were 500 to 600 people on trolleys every day. This morning, the number of people recorded as being on trolleys in the TrolleyGAR report was 244, with 110 people having waited for longer than nine hours. This represents a 23% reduction on this day last year.
The improved results that we are starting to see are the result of the implementation of the emergency task force plan, the investment of further funding of €117 million, the employment of more nurses and the opening of approximately 200 additional and previously closed beds, with a further 250 due to open in the next few weeks. In April, €74 million was provided to reduce delayed discharges, lower the waiting time for fair deal funding and provide additional transitional care beds and home care packages. In July, €18 million was allocated to support the acute hospital system over the winter period by providing additional bed capacity and other initiatives to support access to care. This included additional funding for Beaumont Hospital to enable St. Joseph's day hospital in Raheny to provide a five-day service, thus reducing presentations at the emergency department and the need for elderly people to be admitted.
Six of the beds at Beaumont that had been closed for refurbishment or infection control purposes during 2015 have re-opened and a further 21 beds are to re-open in December. Beaumont Hospital is one of the sites that has been the subject of particular focus, with the SDU supporting it to implement solutions. For example, the number of delayed discharges at Beaumont has decreased from 95 in November 2014 to 70 last month, thus freeing up 25 beds every day for acutely ill patients.
All hospitals, including Beaumont, have escalation plans to manage not only patient flow, but also patient safety in a responsive, controlled and planned way that supports and ensures the delivery of optimum patient care. Last week, I co-signed the emergency department congestion escalation directive to ensure that the progress made to date on overcrowding was improved upon. The directive requires hospitals to implement their escalation plans whenever their emergency departments experience overcrowding. It is expected that this will add to the progress made to date.