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Overcrowding a 'chronic issue'

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019 4:50pm

Cork University Hospital (CUH) was the second most overcrowded hospital in the country behind University Hospital Limerick this week.

68 patients were waiting for beds at CUH yesterday, an increase of 11 patients from Tuesday’s figure of 57 from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organiation (INMO).

This day last week the INMO recorded 49 patients awaiting beds, a figure that dropped temporarily to 33 on Friday before climbing sharply over the weekend.

Meanwhile CUH had its worst ever month for overcrowding last month with the INMO recording a total of 1,079 sick patients forced to wait without a bed throughout July, second only to University Hospital Limerick which recorded 1,293 patients.

These figures represent an increase of 33 per cent for CUH when compared to the same period in 2018.

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Industrial Relations Officer for the Southern Area, Liam Conway, said that “drastic measures” must be taken by the Government to improve the situation.

He said: “It follows the highest numbers recorded in June as well so I'm not surprised given the huge demand that we've seen in CUH over the last 24 months. There's been no let up.

“It's about time now for the Government and the local TDs to invest significantly into CUH for additional bed capacity. It's not good enough for the people in Cork or for our members working in that service.

“Currently there is no plan to address this bed capacity issue and my fear is that this problem is going to be expedited into the winter,” the INMO representative explained to The Cork Independent recently.

Overall 9,439 patients were forced to wait without a bed across the country last month. Amongst them were 45 children.

“The longer you stay in a trolley, the poorer your potential outcome. You also have infection control concerns in relation to outbreaks like influenza which we saw last year, the vomiting bug etc,” said Mr Conway.

“I'm very, very concerned for this winter coming for CUH.

“This is a chronic issue which is only getting worse. We’ve seen a 173 per cent increase from July 2006 to July 2019.

“Basic needs in terms of dignity and care can't be given in a trolley. It must be done in a bed space where people can actually get some sleep. You can't get that in a busy emergency department,” he concluded.

CUH response

A statement released on behalf of Cork University Hospital yesterday read: “CUH has been exceptionally busy in recent weeks. Due to this increased level of activity and subsequent admissions, it is regrettable that some patients may experience a delay in the Emergency Department (ED).

“The increase in attendance is due to the large number of very ill medical patients requiring admission.

“Patient care is paramount in CUH and this situation is being treated as a priority by hospital management,” the statement continued.

Hospital management at CUH have requested that, where appropriate, the public contact their GP in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to attending the ED if their needs are not urgent.

The statement listed South Doc, the Mercy Urgent Care Centre, the local injuries units in Bantry and Mallow General Hospitals, as alternative options for people seeking medical assistance.

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