MORE than 11,000 patients were stuck waiting on trolleys at the Cork University Hospital emergency department in 2019.
End-of-year figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation revealed that CUH was the second-worst performing hospital in the country for leaving patients waiting on trolleys.
In total, 11,066 patients were left on trolleys in CUH last year, behind only University Hospital Limerick with 13,941.
Across the country, 118,367 patients went without hospital beds in 2019, confirming it as the worst-ever year for hospital overcrowding since records began - 9% higher than 2018.
More than 1,300 of the patients were children younger than 16.
The worst months for overcrowding in 2019 were November (12,055), October (11,452), and September (10,641).
Other Cork hospitals also suffered severe overcrowding last year, including The Mercy (3,174) and Bantry General (1,060).
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation point to understaffing and a lack of capacity as key drivers of overcrowding.
There are 411 fewer inpatient beds in Ireland’s hospitals today than a decade ago, despite a larger, older population.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Things are getting worse, not better. These figures should be falling, but we’re going the wrong direction. 2019 saw thousands more patients without proper beds – often at one of the most vulnerable points in their lives.
“Overcrowding used to be a winter problem. Now it’s an all-year problem, which gets worse in winter.
“The most frustrating part is that we know how to solve this problem: increase staffing and bed capacity, expand community care, and get going with the Sláintecare reforms.
“Instead, the HSE continues to enforce its rigid recruitment controls, starving hospitals and community services of the staff they need. Our members are rightly appalled by the conditions they are forced to work and care for patients in.
“2020 should be a year where understaffing and overcrowding are brought under control, but that simply won’t happen without investment and an end to the recruitment ban.”