A CORK hospital has been forced to pay for taxis to transfer patients to a private hospital in the region amid high demand and patient safety concerns in its emergency department (ED).
A health service spokesperson confirmed to The Echo that Cork University Hospital (CUH) paid for taxis to transfer patients to private hospitals yesterday, a day that saw record overcrowding levels across the country.
There were 60 patients awaiting beds at Cork University Hospital, along with 26 at the Mercy and five at Bantry General.
A spokesperson for the hospital said: “Due to high demand on the emergency department and in order to ensure patient safety and maintain patient flow, it was agreed to transfer a number of low acuity short-stay patients from CUH to a private hospital.
“Where a patient does not have private health insurance in place, CUH is invoiced for the care received.”
On Wednesday, 65 patients were left waiting for beds at CUH, along with 23 at the Mercy and five at Bantry General.
Patients have spoken out about the horrific conditions in Cork emergency departments as dozens of people were forced to wait hours on end for beds and treatment on Tuesday.
One man, James Anthony, revealed he had been waiting to be seen at CUH since 8.30pm on Monday evening.
“I can’t blame the staff or anyone here, they’ve been great.
“But I’m just crippled with pain and hoping I can be seen soon,” he added.
Stephen Casserly and Jessica Riley arrived at the hospital yesterday afternoon after Stephen was advised by his doctor to attend for tests on his lungs.
Ms Riley said entire corridors at CUH are taken up with people on trolleys and that there were little or no seats available as the ED spilled out into adjacent corridors.
Dr Conor Deasy, a consultant in Emergency Medicine at CUH, told The Echo that staff at the hospital are “deeply concerned”.
“We have been highlighting the need for extra bed capacity in the hospital as well as increased rehabilitation bed capacity, access to step down beds in the community, nursing home beds and home care packages.
“The ED Staff abhor the inhumanity, indignity and patient safety risk associated with treating patients who require an inpatient hospital bed on the corridor of the emergency department.
“Immediate steps are vital.”