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Patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital.
Patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital.

Record-breaking 600 on trolleys in CUH

MORE than 600 patients were on trolleys in Cork University Hospital during July, the highest figure the hospital has witnessed at this time of the year since the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) began collecting the figures 12 years ago.

2009 saw 509 patients on trolleys in CUH in July of that year, the highest until now. 2018’s figures have almost doubled from 318 at this time last year.

A total of 614 patients were on trolleys in Cork last month. Nationally, the figure hit 7,069, including 21 people under the age of 16. It is an increase of 11% on last year, and the most overcrowded July since records began.

At a meeting with the HSE at the Workplace Relations Commission yesterday, the INMO demanded immediate talks on curtailment of services to ensure the safety of nurses and midwives when at work.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Overcrowding is now a constant feature of our hospital system, even in summer. Low salaries for nurses and midwives mean that vacancies simply aren’t being taken up and health service capacity can’t grow.

“Without realistic pay correction for nurses and midwives, this problem won’t be fixed,” she added.

“The HSE still haven’t set out their funding workforce plan, which sets how many nurses and midwives they will recruit this year. The hazardous working conditions for staff look set to worsen.

“The HSE is sleepwalking into yet another winter crisis.

“We have today sought discussions on which services will be curtailed this winter so that nursing staff can work in safe environments.

“It is very unlikely that services will develop to alleviate overcrowding this year. Plans must now be put in place to ensure a safe working environment.”

The INMO also revealed that Emergency Departments in Ireland are at least 216 nurses short of what is needed to care for all admitted patients.

The figures from the HSE were obtained by the INMO at the Workplace Relations Commission on Tuesday.

They reveal 159 unfilled vacancies, while the HSE estimates that an additional 57 nurses are required within emergency departments to care for admitted patients for whom there are no available beds.

The INMO says that low pay and bad working conditions make it near-impossible to recruit and retain sufficient nurses in emergency departments.

Across all services, the nursing census shows 2,500 fewer employed nurses and midwives than in 2007, and vacancies are growing.