CORK hospitals are in danger of devastating overcrowding if staff and bed shortages are not addressed, nurses have warned.
Cork University Hospital (CUH) recorded the second highest number of patients on trolleys or waiting on wards for beds in Ireland in 2017.
Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed that 6,815 patients were left on trolleys awaiting beds in CUH last year, second only to University Hospital Limerick, which recorded over 8,000 patients.
A record 656 patients were on trolleys or on wards awaiting admission to a bed in hospitals across the country yesterday, including more than 65 in Cork hospitals.
“INMO members are struggling to work in the current environments with severe overcrowding in our emergency departments combined with short staffing levels,” said Liam Conway, INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork.
“CUH has seen the number of patients on trolleys increase by 3,000 since 2006.
“However, nationally we are down 8% in the overall nursing and midwifery workforce since 2007,” he added.
“This is very worrying for the people in Cork as 6,815 patients in CUH were on Trolleys in 2017.”
The INMO has called for increases in staff which will result in filling the current vacancies and allow for additional beds to be opened.
“The solution must be further investment in primary healthcare services in Cork and additional funding to increase bed capacity,” said Mr Conway.
“Unfortunately, the HSE has failed to recruit the agreed HSE and INMO figure of over 1,200 additional nurses and midwives in 2017.
“We await the HSE’s end of year figure, but as late as September 2017, the HSE has only increased the overall Nursing and Midwifery workforce by 13, significantly short of the 1200 figure,” he added.
“The HSE recruitment and retention measures are not working.”
The INMO has sought an additional 2,000 extra beds nationally which they claim must be introduced to alleviate the trolley and waiting list crisis.
For each bed, one nurse or midwife is required to staff it on a 24-hour basis.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has insisted “no effort or resource is being spared to improve the situation” in emergency departments.