The number of patients admitted to Cork University Hospital forced to wait on trolleys and chairs for beds has risen by almost 300 in one month, new figures have revealed.
More than 900 patients were awaiting beds in CUH in November, an almost 300 increase on October, which saw 647 patients on trolleys and chairs.
2018 has seen the worst November on record for hospital overcrowding across Ireland, figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have revealed.
Almost 10,000 were awaiting beds, an 11% increase on November 2017 and more than twice (+107%) as bad as 2006, when records began.
Last week, the count for 2018 crossed 100,000 for the first time ever, already making 2018 the worst-ever year for overcrowding.
Five hospitals saw more than 500 patients on trolleys in November including CUH (932) and University Hospital Limerick which saw over 1,071 patients on trolleys last month – the equivalent of Limerick’s total bed capacity twice over.
The INMO said that much of the overcrowding is down to understaffing, caused primarily by low pay levels in Irish nursing and midwifery.
According to the HSE census, as of September 2018, Ireland’s health service has 227 fewer staff nurses than December 2017.
“People waiting in EDs on trolleys and chairs shouldn’t be the norm but unfortunately it is in CUH and other hospitals across Ireland,” said INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork, Liam Conway.
“This surge is down to the lack of additional capacity in CUH and in community settings.
“We need more beds but to open these beds we need more staff and the HSE are not recruiting or retaining them enough,” he added.
“Emergency staff at CUH are excellent and management at the hospital has implemented measures to ensure there is additional staff to deal with the latest surge but the situation is far from ideal.” Mr Conway warned the situation may only worsen as we enter the depths of winter.