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Cork University Hospital Alamy Stock Photo

'Extremely dangerous': Overcrowding at Cork University Hospital reaches pandemic peak

The INMO stated that 63 patients were waiting on trolleys in CUH today.

THE NUMBER OF patients waiting for beds at Cork University Hospital this morning was the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). 

The union stated that 63 patients were waiting on trolleys in CUH today, with a total of 332 waiting for beds in hospitals around the country. 

The statement comes as the INMO released its total trolley figures for the month of August, stating that 6,367 patients were waiting for beds across the country in the last month, more than double the number in August 2020. 

The highest trolley figures for August were in: 

  • University Hospital Limerick – 823
  • Cork University Hospital – 738
  • University Hospital Galway – 563 

“The situation is out of control and extremely dangerous. The rate of overcrowding in CUH is now so high that we can’t maintain the proper infection control measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid,” INMO Industrial Relations Officer for CUH, Liam Conway said.

“There is an urgent need for additional beds and the appropriate staffing increases in ED and throughout hospital, but we also need more capacity in the community so people can be discharged at the right time and space is used properly,” Conway said.

“This is very quickly approaching the record overcrowding we saw before the pandemic, but Covid is very much still an issue. Our members and their patients are being put at risk, and it cannot be allowed to continue.” 

INMO Director of Industrial Relations Tony Fitzpatrick said the situation is “completely unacceptable”.

“Government plans for opening back up society need to include extra healthcare capacity and supports for our healthcare staff, who are burnt out and exhausted,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Increasing pressure on our members now without proper measures to deal with the demands on the health service is going to drive nurses and midwives out of their professions and out of the country.” 

In a statement this afternoon, a spokesperson for CUH said the hospital has been “exceptionally busy over the last number of days”. 

The spokesperson said the increase in attendance is “due to the large number of very ill medical patients requiring admission and the impact of Covid-19 has also contributed to increased attendances in the ED”. 

They added the pressure on the ED has been “exacerbated” by the continued impact of the recent cyber attack on the HSE. 

“Hospital management have requested that, where appropriate, the public contact with GP/South Doc in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to attending the Emergency Department if their needs are not urgent,” they said. 

“Patient care is paramount in CUH and this situation is being treated as a priority by hospital management who have taken steps to address this issue.” 

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