AS Cork hospitals experience increasing pressure on their emergency departments, a Cork consultant in emergency medicine has urged the public to seek alternative care for minor injuries where possible.
Yesterday morning, there were 66 patients on trolleys in Cork University Hospital (CUH), the highest number in an Irish hospital, albeit down from 85 the previous day.
The Mercy University Hospital also warned this week of delays in its emergency department, due to “a marked increase in the attendances of acutely-ill patients and a surge in Covid-19, flu, and winter vomiting presentations”.
Clinical lead and consultant in emergency medicine at CUH, Professor Conor Deasy said GP out-of-hours services and emergency departments will be busier than ever this Christmas, with the recent cold weather also leading to presentations.
“The cold weather and icy conditions require greater vigilance, especially for older people,” Prof Deasy said.
“We are witnessing people slipping, falling, and sustaining limb fractures, chest-wall injuries, and head injuries.
“Worse still, the fall can leave them incapacitated, lying on the ground in the cold. Being sensible about venturing outdoors and mindful of the conditions underfoot during this cold snap is key.”
“The Christmas decorations will see ladders and falls from various heights leading to heartache this Christmas. Think, ‘could I fall and what would happen if I did?’ before getting up onto that height.
“Perhaps someone in the family is safer on ladders and on heights than you and you can ask them to do the needful.
“The most common cause of major trauma in Ireland is a low fall.
“Inevitably we will see patients this Christmas who have overdone it with alcohol and been injured as a result of a fall or a fight or a road traffic incident.
"Life suddenly changes, sometimes forever,” he said.
Describing emergency departments as “a precious resource”, he reminded people that local injury units are available for minor injuries, including the Mercy injury unit in Gurranabraher, the Mallow injury unit at Mallow General Hospital, and Bantry injury unit at Bantry General Hospital.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the Cork branch of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said there is a lack of capacity to meet demand both at CUH and in the community, which the spokesperson said “needs to improve”.
The private beds that are available “need to be utilised to the maximum extent” to improve the patient flow out of CUH.
The spokesperson said that the INMO expects numbers on trolleys to grow in the next couple of weeks.