A TD said much more must be done to ensure that patients at the CUH receive high quality and timely care without these delays. Photo: Olga Kononenko

'Behind every number is a patient'

The delays in CUH’s emergency department are being treated as a priority by hospital management, a statement to the Cork Independent has said, as new figures show how many patients had a 24 hour wait in 2021 and so far this year.

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said this week that new figures exposed “an alarming number of patients” who were and are waiting more than 24 hours for care at CUH’s Emergency Department (ED).

The figures, obtained by Sinn Féin from the HSE, revealed 4,839 people in 2021 and 1,399 so far in 2022 people have been left waiting for more than 24 hours to be seen at the ED.

“Behind every number is a patient who needed timely care and was left to wait for far too long,” he said while adding that much more must be done to ensure that patients at the CUH receive high quality and timely care without these delays.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said: “The pain and distress caused by these delays is considerable. People attend emergency departments because they require urgent care. This scandal is happening because of process and leadership failures across the health service.

"Let me be clear, the staff at CUH are doing an incredible job, working under pressure to do their very best to serve our community. There is no single solution. We need capacity put in where it is needed, but just as importantly, essential Sláintecare reforms need to be advanced quickly.”

The Cork South Central TD added: “To respond to the challenge, reducing ED waits has to be seen as part of wider reform efforts. It can only be tackled by investing in community and GP capacity to reduce hospital admissions. A minimalist approach to healthcare reform will not work.

“A specific plan is needed for the CUH. The Minister must lead from the front. Staff are working day and night to look after our community, but they aren’t getting the support they need from government. Patients at CUH deserve better and I will continue to raise this with the Government until the changes needed are delivered,” he concluded.

In response, a statement from CUH to the Cork Independent said: "The ED at CUH has been exceptionally busy over the past number of weeks as the hospital manages a surge in Covid-19 activity along with increased emergency presentations to the hospitals.

“Due to this increased level of activity and subsequent admissions, it is regrettable that some patients may experience a delay in the ED and this situation is being treated as a priority by hospital management.”

The statement continued: “The increasing number of Covid-19 positive patients admitted to the hospital is also putting significant pressure on services.”

Hospital management have requested that, where appropriate, the public contact their GP/South Doc in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to attending the Emergency Departmen, including the Mercy Urgent Care Centre, St Mary’s Health Campus, Gurranabraher, if their needs are not urgent.

“Patient care is paramount in CUH and all patients are triaged and treated on the basis of clinical need when they present at the Emergency Department. Hospital management would like to assure the public that the clinical needs of all patients in the emergency departments are being cared for,” the statement concluded.