A nurse working in Cork University Hospital (CUH) has described the current conditions in the hospital's emergency department as "inhumane" and "like a war zone".
The number of people waiting for beds has reached unprecedented levels with 760 people on hospital trolleys across Ireland on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisations (INMO).
Michelle Kingston, who has worked as a nurse at CUH for the past 12 years, said that she has never seen the hospital as crowded as it is this week.
“You do your best for a patient but it’s in inhumane circumstances. It’s mainly elderly, helpless, sick people who cannot do anything for themselves,” she said.
“They are sick people coming in and they really need help. People say stay away from the A&E department if you don’t need to be here but a lot of them, they do.”
She added: “In my 12 years working there, it really takes a lot to make me cry at work, but at the weekend, I came home crying.”
Ms Kingston said that she has often seen patients being on trolleys for up to three days, but she said she would not be surprised if some people experience even longer waits.
“I could triage a patient on a Friday and I could see them in the corridor when I’m coming into work on a Sunday night. They’re still on a trolley, that’s a regular. I’m sure all my colleagues would say the same,” she said.
“We get all the acute injuries, it’s us the GPs send to, it’s us the south-doc send to and we’re just being bombarded. We don’t have the capacity.”
She added she has excellent colleagues and management, all of whom are doing their best for patients. But that the hospital simply does not have the capacity to deal with the number of patients seeking help.