Hospital workers dreading winter A&E crisis after record trolley figures for August

Hospital workers dreading winter A&E crisis after record trolley figures for August
Cork University Hopital

HEALTH workers across Cork have warned that the country is heading towards a winter crisis in hospital emergency departments which could be even worse than previous years.

The warning comes as new figures have revealed that 604 patients were on trolleys in Cork University Hospital (CUH) last month — the third highest in the country.

Nationally, almost 8,000 patients were on trolleys waiting for a hospital bed in the worst August on record for overcrowding. The traditionally quiet month was as bad as the worst month in 2014, when the problem was called a crisis and then health minister Leo Varadkar set up the emergency department taskforce in response.

High trolley numbers in A&Es throughout the summer months does not “bode well” for the upcoming winter, Cork GP Dr Nick Flynn has warned.

There were also more than 600 people awaiting a bed in CUH in July of this year, the busiest summer since the INMO began collating the figures 12 years ago.

David Hughes, deputy general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, said: “These are dangerously high figures for summer. Our health services are clearly stretched beyond capacity.

“Nurses, midwives and patients will all be looking to winter with a sense of dread,” he added.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, has warned that the hazardous working conditions for staff looks set to worsen and that the HSE is sleepwalking into yet another winter crisis.

“Even though August was a mild month, patients and staff faced record overcrowding. Nearly 8,000 sick and injured people were forced to wait without a bed,” she said.

January 2018 saw 832 patients on trolleys and in wards of Cork University Hospital, along with more than 350 in the Mercy University Hospital.

The Director of the National Health Services Research Institute in Ireland, Professor John Patrick Browne, said this winter will witness the same type of crisis but slightly worse because of rising demand.

“The extra bed capacity is not coming on stream fast enough to deal with this winter and there has been little progress with recruiting extra staff,” he explained.

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