CORK University Hospital was forced to transfer patients to private hospitals at the weekend to cope with the overcrowding crisis.
Off-duty paramedics were called into work yesterday to transfer patients out of CUH to private hospitals and nursing homes around the city and county.
The move was described as ‘very unusual’ by a member of the ambulance service.
The number patients on trolleys has hit a new record high in Ireland in recent days.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it has recorded a record total of 2,408 patient on trolleys during the first week of the year.
Almost all visitors have been banned from CUH and Bantry General Hospital in an effort to restrict the spread of the flu virus.
CUH said it has put the restriction in place due to the number of patients who have presented with flu-like symptoms.
“All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus,” it said it a statement.
The only exceptions to the ban are in relation to patients in the Intensive Treatment Unit and the Paediatric Ward, where visitors are restricted to one per patient.
In Bantry, the only exception is for critically ill patients and is restricted to one visitor and confined to visiting times only.
The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit Bantry Hospital.
People with flu-like symptoms are being asked to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department of either hospital.
“We are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most,” the CUH statement advised.
“Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.”
It said many patients in Cork with limb injuries can go to an Injury Unit in Bantry, Mallow or Gurranabraher.
Blackpool GP Dr John Sheehan told the Evening Echo he had seen a dramatic increase in flu patients this week, in excess of normal for this time of year, and expects numbers to rise further in the coming weeks.