More than 10,000 patients have been forced to wait on trolleys or in wards for a bed at Cork University Hospital so far this year, it has been revealed.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed that 2019 has seen the highest number of patients on trolleys in any year since records began and the union warned that it is not even December.
Nationally, more than 108,000 people have gone without beds in 2019 so far, a figure that already narrowly exceeds that of 2018.
Almost 10% of these people have been left waiting for a bed at CUH.
So far in 2019, CUH has seen 10,136 patients go without a bed - the second highest level of overcrowding, behind only University Hospital Limerick which saw 12,810.
The record-breaking level of overcrowding has seen the INMO write to the Health and Safety Authority and HIQA, invoking health and safety laws and seeking their intervention.
The union has called for for extra staffing and an increase in hospital, homecare, and community capacity to deal with the problem.
The Echo revealed this month that CUH’s application for funding for a 31-bed ward and staff to alleviate pressure was refused by the HSE.
Speaking about the national trolley figures today, INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“Winter has only just begun and the record is already broken.
“These statistics are the hallmark of a wildly bureaucratic health service, which is failing staff and patients alike.
“We take no pleasure in having to record these figures for a decade and a half,” she added.
“We know the problem, but we also know the solutions: extra beds in hospitals, safe staffing levels, and more step-down and community care outside of the hospital.
“Five years ago, hospitals like Beaumont consistently faced the most extreme overcrowding problems in the country.
“They reduced that problem by adding beds and growing community care.
“Other services can do the same and must be allowed to do so.” “No other developed country faces anything close to this trolley problem. It can be solved, but a strong political agenda to drive change is needed.
“The INMO has written to the health and safety authorities this week to try to force a change from the employers. Hospitals should be a place of safety and care – not danger.”