Inside an overcrowded A&E in Cork: 'The whole corridor was just full of trolleys with people on them'

Inside an overcrowded A&E in Cork: 'The whole corridor was just full of trolleys with people on them'
Patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital.

PATIENTS have spoken out about the horrific conditions inside Cork emergency departments as dozens of people are forced to wait hours on end for beds and treatment.

Today saw record-breaking levels of overcrowding across the country.

Nationally, there were 679 patients waiting without beds in Ireland’s hospitals – the highest daily figure in 2019 so far, and the second-highest ever recorded.

In Cork, there were 60 patients awaiting beds at Cork University Hospital, along with 26 at the Mercy and five at Bantry General.

Speaking to The Echo this afternoon, patient James Anthony revealed he had been waiting to be seen at CUH since 8.30pm on Monday evening.

“I’ve been here since around 8.30pm last night so it’s been a long haul,” he said.

“I can’t blame the staff or anyone here, they’ve been great.

“But I’m just crippled with pain and hoping I can be seen soon,” he added.

“I’ve been through all the emotions since I got here.

“I’ve been thrown around like a rag doll between hospitals.”

Mr Anthony was recently in the Mercy University Hospital as well.

He said he has seen people struggling to access treatment in a system that is bursting at the seams.

“It’s heartbreaking seeing others in this situation and they’re in dire need of help.” 

A former military man, Mr Anthony fell on hard times since leaving the army and has since been made homeless.

“I’ve no qualms about saying that I’m a homeless man,” he said.

“I’ve had my difficulties and issues with alcohol but that has been to cope with the pain.

“It’s a very hard situation and when you’re coming in just trying to get care really, it’s just a hard situation,” he added.

“I first came in with chest problems and my heart - I’m not even 47 yet.

“I just hope I can be seen soon.” 

Visibly emotional, Mr Anthony hit out at the government, saying they have failed to act while the level of homelessness and hospital waiting lists increased.

“We need to get rid of them because they’re there to represent us and they’re not doing a good enough job,” he said.

“What has happened over the last couple of weeks and months here in Cork with the homelessness and hospitals and everything has just destroyed me.

“It’s a beautiful country but bad things are happening at the moment,” he added.

“It’s hard to take any more of it.” 

Stephen Casserly and Jessica Riley also spoke to The Echo about the conditions in the emergency department at CUH.

The couple arrived at the hospital this afternoon after Stephen was advised by his doctor to attend for tests on his lungs.

“He got into a triage room where they did blood pressure tests,” said Ms Riley.

“Then he got sent to another room where they did a tracing of his heart.

“Then he got sent back to the waiting room and was told it could be hours before he’s seen for blood tests,” she added.

“We went through a corridor to the room where he was having the tracing done and the whole corridor was just full of trolleys with people on them.” 

Mr Casserly described the situation as an “absolute joke”.

“There seems to be no end in sight in here,” he added.

Mr Casserly was rushed to the hospital a month ago by ambulance and was kept in overnight.

However, he was sent home the following day.

“We’ve come all the way from Skibbereen again,” said Ms Riley.

“We haven’t been able to sit down since we got here because there were no seats and he is in agony.” 

Mr Casserly said he has been offered panadol but that would do little for his pain.

“It could be hours and hours before I’m even seen.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here.

Ms Riley added: “I have to go back home to Skibbereen because we have four children so I can’t even stay with him.

“We heard the nurse say during one of the tests that there were another 80 patients waiting to be seen.

“It’s awful,” she said.

CUH consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr Conor Deasy, told The Echo that staff at the hospital are “deeply concerned”.

Dr Conor Deasy, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Cork University Hospital (CUH)
Dr Conor Deasy, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Cork University Hospital (CUH)

“We have been highlighting the need for extra bed capacity in the hospital as well as increased rehabilitation bed capacity, access to step down beds in the community, nursing home beds and home care packages,” he said.

“The ED Staff abhor the inhumanity, indignity and patient safety risk associated with treating patients who require an inpatient hospital bed on the corridor of the emergency department.

“Money needs to be allocated to allow bed capacity be created and even then building this capacity cannot happen overnight,” he added.

“Immediate steps are vital.”

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