The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said it has become “increasingly difficult to fill rosters” due to Covid-related leave and has called on the HSE to take measures to protect the nursing and midwifery workforce.
It comes as 47 people are on trolleys in hospitals across Cork.
As of 8am on Friday morning, there were 22 people waiting in the Emergency Department (ED) for a bed at Cork University Hospital (CUH). At the Mercy University Hospital (MUH), there were 18 people in ED waiting for a bed.
There were seven people waiting in wards elsewhere in the hospital for a bed at Bantry General Hospital (BGH).
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “We are dealing with a very different January in our health service this year, we are seeing huge increases in the number of patients on trolleys and a high number of nurses and midwives on Covid-related leave.
Today 353 patients are on trolleys, a 100% increase on the number of patients on trolleys compared to this day last year.
"Our nursing and midwifery rosters are depleted. It is becoming increasingly difficult to fill rosters. According to our own calculations based on figures provided by the HSE, 7.29% of nurses are on Covid-related leave at present.
“We know that Covid outbreaks are higher in healthcare settings compared to any other setting. The HSE must take meaningful, long-lasting action to protect our nursing and midwifery workforce.
"That includes curtailing non-emergency activity until the end of January at least and making improvements to air quality in our hospitals.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that while the INMO welcome calls from the HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid for hospitals to curtail all non-emergency care for the next two weeks, she said that the INMO believes that this should be extended until the end of January at least to give nurses and midwives “some chance of being able to carry out their work safely”.
Air quality in our hospitals continues to be a huge problem while overcrowding continues to be allowed.
"We believe that as an employer the HSE has an obligation to provide proper air filtration units such as HEPA filters across our hospitals, especially in overcrowded Emergency Departments and waiting areas.
“It has been especially difficult for nurses and midwives over the last three weeks in particular, they are working in extremely difficult circumstances. The HSE as an employer must do everything it can to protect this workforce, who are the most exposed to this virus day in and day out,” she said.