Cork people who have endured difficult experiences within the health sector in the past year have called on the next government to address issues in the service.
Hospital overcrowding and unacceptable waiting times for vital equipment have been highlighted by The Echo in recent months.
Two people who experienced these issues first-hand have called for change.
Coachford native Steve Crowley was forced to watch his mother Evelyn die in overcrowded, hectic conditions at Cork University Hospital (CUH) towards the end of last year.
An only child, Steve returned home from Australia 14 years ago to care for his mother when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Ms Crowley was hospitalised towards the end of last year and died just days after her 70th birthday after contracting sepsis.
Ms Crowley was left in a hospital corridor for hours after she died before a small room was finally found for her.
Speaking to The Echo, Steve said his mother was left in a crowded corridor for hours after passing away, and that even when the room was found, it was too small for a hospital bed and the door kept hitting her bed.
He said the incident has left its mark on him, and that people deserve better.
“We all know A&E is the huge issue —the chaos in there needs to be addressed,” he explained.
“Patients and staff are being put under unnecessary stress and more beds are badly needed.
“Surely if they can spend almost €2bn on a hospital in Dublin, they can allocate more beds and help to Cork,” he added.
“On a personal note, I would ask that they please allocate rooms to people who are close to passing away or who have passed away.
“My mother was left passed away on an A&E ward for a number of hours.
“She and I deserved more — we all deserve dignity.”
A Cork teenager was left hospitalised last year after the HSE failed to provide him with a new wheelchair, which left him suffering from severe pressure sores and in danger of amputation.
Mallow native Liam Lynch spent months in hospital as a result of the HSE’s failure to provide him with a larger powerchair and it was feared he might miss his Junior Cert exams as a result.
However, Liam recovered well and, with the help of his school and family, sat his Junior Cert last summer.
Speaking to The Echo, Liam’s mum Grainne called for the next government to ensure that funding for vital supports such as wheelchairs are in place.
She said a situation such as the one Liam was placed in should never have happened, and should not be allowed to happen again.
“I think that the next government needs to increase the funding, not reduce it, for disability services,” said Ms Lynch.
“The length of time it takes to get a wheelchair is dreadful.
“A wheelchair user could be waiting up to 18 or 24 months to get a vital piece of equipment that they use every day.”