ALMOST 1,500 people were left languishing on trolleys or in wards waiting for hospital beds in Cork throughout February, it has been revealed.
Figures from The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 1,491 patients were left waiting for hospital beds across three Cork hospitals during February.
Around 1,031 were left on trolleys or in wards at Cork University Hospital (CUH) along with almost 350 at the Mercy (MUH) and 119 at Bantry General.
The INMO only conducts its trolley count on weekdays, meaning that there were seven days in February when no count was taken.
February 25 saw 74 patients waiting for a bed at CUH, while the highest trolley count for February reached 32 at MUH and 13 on two occasions at Bantry General.
Speaking to The Echo on the continuing overcrowding crisis, Dr Chris Luke, consultant in emergency medicine and adjunct senior lecturer in public health at University College Cork (UCC), said:
“A couple of weeks ago I discovered a letter written to me by my best man in 1989.
“He was working in Dublin at the time and I was working in Edinburgh.
“He had sent me cuttings from the Irish Independent and the Irish Times which were talking about the overcrowding crisis in A&Es in Dublin,” he added.
“There were horror stories of people lying on trolleys for hours and they were pleading with GPs to help with the staffing crisis.
“That was 30 years ago.” Far from things improving, Dr Luke explained that the situation has actually gotten worse.
“Over the past 30 years, the number of beds, staff and options have been cut,” he said.
“This has hindered the recruitment of doctors and nurses to emergency departments.
“This has created the vicious circle we see today where there are fewer staff and conditions are just getting worse and worse,” he added.
Dr Luke highlighted the need for greater capacity and resources across Cork to tackle the issue of hospital overcrowding.
“We need another 1,000 beds in the city,” he said.
“We’re short of at least 10 consultants in emergency medicine in Cork alone.
“We should also have another 10 to 20 non-consultant doctors and around 30 permanent nursing staff across the two A&Es in CUH and the Mercy,” he added.
“I’ve been pleading with the powers that be for the past 25 years to give us more space, more beds and more staff.
“The only solution is for the government to decide that the conditions in our EDs are the very, very top priority.
“The fact that there were 74 patients waiting for beds at CUH on one day is an indictment, above all, of our political system.”