90-year-old man begged for a bed for his wife (88) who was left on a trolley at overcrowded Cork University Hospital

90-year-old man begged for a bed for his wife (88) who was left on a trolley at overcrowded Cork University Hospital
90-year-old Bartholomew Murphy, from Ballincollig, who spent close to 20 hours on a trolley in CUH last year.

A 90-year-old man begged for a bed for his 88-year-old wife at Cork University Hospital after overcrowding left her waiting days to be seen by a consultant.

Cork woman Bernadette Walshe has told how her mother was taken to Cork University Hospital last Friday because it was feared she was having a stroke.

She was still waiting tonight to be moved to the appropriate ward attached to her consultant, more than 90 hours after she arrived at the hospital.

Bernadette Walshe's mother, who is 88, in her bed in Cork University Hospital.
Bernadette Walshe's mother, who is 88, in her bed in Cork University Hospital.

During that time, she was moved from an A&E cubicle to a trolley, on a crowded corridor, for six hours and then later to an emergency ward.

Ms Walshe, whose dad spent nearly 20 hours on a corridor trolley last year at CUH, said her father was this time battling for his wife to get appropriate care.

“The saddest part was my father, who is nearly 91, was begging and pleading at the desk, asking for my mother to get a bed,” she said.

Ms Walshe is calling for an A&E ward, specifically for elderly people, to be opened in Cork. 

“My mother is 89 next month. She was admitted to CUH’s A&E on Friday around teatime. It was thought she may be having a stroke.”

Upon admittance, it was discovered she had very high blood pressure and she would need to be kept in.

“She was in an A&E cubicle until 7pm on Sunday. They said they needed the cubicle for someone else. So she was allocated a trolley on a corridor in A&E,” said Ms Walshe.

“She was disorientated. She didn’t have any privacy to be changed.”

Ms Walshe rang the hospital’s bed management and asked when her mother would get a bed.

“They had to make a decision to open an emergency ward. They didn’t open this until after midnight. They could have opened it earlier.

Cork University Hospital, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Cork University Hospital, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

“She is still waiting for a bed in her consultant’s ward to open up.”

Ms Walshe said it is heartbreaking to see elderly people in overcrowded emergency departments.

“Elderly people should not be put into general A&E. They are the most vulnerable patients. They are at risk of more health complications.

“They are confused and disorientated, they are wailing and crying, trying to get out of their beds.

“The trauma experienced by these people comes home and we have to pick up the pieces.”

Ms Walshe believes the problem can be solved with political willpower and an increase in beds and staff. 

“The staff are excellent. They are trying their best. It’s not them, they are up against the structure and the system. They are minus 60 beds at the start of the day.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its elderly. What sort of society are we living in?

“We have voted for change, now the politicians need to act. There has to be accountability, otherwise, the government will fail the people again.

“I can’t understand why we, as a country, have allowed this to happen. Nothing has changed over the last few years.

A spokesperson for CUH said: “At Cork University Hospital, the decision to open additional beds is dependent on the availability of staff. This is reviewed by hospital management on an ongoing basis.

“Cork University Hospital does not comment on individual patients.”

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