MORE than 9,000 patients waited on trolleys at Cork University Hospital (CUH) in 2018 — the second worst trolley figures in the entire country.
End-of-year figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have revealed that 108,227 patients went without hospital beds in Ireland in 2018, a record high. This included 9,135 patients at CUH.
The INMO blames the crisis on low capacity and understaffing.
The organisation had last year asked the Government to develop “real proposals” to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing.
However, nurses say this has not happened, and 95% of INMO members voted in favour of industrial action.
The INMO Executive will meet on January 7 and 8 to set dates for strikes.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Despite the government spin, 2018 was the worst year on record for overcrowding.
“Negative records were set throughout the year, with more than 100,000 admitted patients forced to wait on trolleys and chairs, without a proper bed. We know that this dramatically worsens outcomes for our patients.
“The health service does not have enough beds to support our population. More beds means more nurses, but the HSE simply can’t hire enough on these wages. It’s beyond time for the Government to engage proactively with the INMO to resolve the crisis in Irish nursing and midwifery.
“Patients should be focused on recovering, but instead have to worry about waiting times, understaffing and a lack of beds. 2019 must see real changes in policy and funding to resolve this once and for all,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
Meanwhile, a Frailty Intervention Therapy Team (FITT) start work at CUH’s Emergency Department (ED) today, as part of the hospital’s winter plan.
CUH was allocated €800,000 by the HSE to implement a number of measures to improve patient flow and experience over the winter period.
The plans, part of a national €30 million HSE initiative, allowed direct access for GPs for additional MRI scans, catered for additional private capacity in the Mater Private, which commenced on December 28, and 30 Transitional Care beds including 14 in the Clonakilty Community Hospital.
The plan also involved the reconfiguring of city long-term care beds to provide six step down beds for CUH in Ballincollig Community Nursing Unit and the allocation of additional senior clinicians available in the ED in CUH, in an effort to speed up people’s waiting time in the ED, whether they are admitted, waiting for diagnostic tests or released home.
Meanwhile, the Medical Assessment Unit at the CUH has been open on a 24 hour basis since December 27, as part of the winter plan.
CUH has more than 200 A&E attendances per day each year from December 27 right through to January, along with 50 ambulances arrivals.
It was one of nine hospital sites, along with associated community healthcare organisations, targeted for resources in the HSE winter plan.