The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said the current state of the health system is “extremely concerning” as over 18,000 patients were left without a bed in Cork this year.
2022 was the worst year on record for hospital overcrowding according to the INMO’s Trolley Watch figures.
Cork University Hospital (CUH) ranked as the second most overcrowded hospital in the country, for both this month and the entire year of 2022.
12,439 patients were left waiting on trolleys in CUH this year – and 1,355 in December alone. The figure is a 68% increase on the 7,411 patients left without a bed in CUH in 2021. The level of overcrowding in CUH this year is also 12% higher than previous peak overcrowding levels before the pandemic, with 11,066 patients without a bed in 2019.
In the Mercy University Hospital (MUH), 5,043 people were left without a bed this year, an 84% increase on 2,742 patients last year, and a 59% increase on 3,173 patients in 2019.
Meanwhile in Bantry General Hospital (BGH), 539 patients were on trolleys this year, a 327% increase on 126 patients last year. However, 2022 figures are almost half of peak overcrowding levels in 2019, when 1,060 patients were without a bed in Bantry.
Overall in Cork, 18,021 patients were left waiting on trolleys in 2022. Overcrowding levels have increased by 75% in a year, as 10,279 patients were without a hospital bed across the county in 2021.
Compared to pre-pandemic figures in 2019, when 15,299 people went without a bed in Cork hospitals, overcrowding is up by 18% in 2022.
Nationally, over 121,318 patients, including 2,777 children, went without a bed in Irish hospitals in 2022, which the INMO says is the worst year for hospital overcrowding on record.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “Our members have spent this year working in a constant state of crisis. Nurses are unfortunately ending this year how they started it — firefighting intolerable overcrowding coupled with highly transmissible viruses and infections.
“We have had silent acceptance from Government and the HSE on this type of overcrowding for far too long. The HSE have acknowledged that things are going to get worse in our hospitals before they get better but have not outlined what precise supports will be made available to our members in the coming days and weeks ahead.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE has a duty as an employer and as a service provider to take the necessary steps to scale up capacity.
“The current state of our health system is extremely concerning. The INMO has called for the HSE to have a realistic plan. We cannot allow a drift into this dangerous situation emerging across the country,” she said.