Overcrowding at Cork University Hospital is out of control and dangerous, say nurses

INMO says issue is so bad that infection control measures cannot be maintained

A sign in Cork University Hospital. The INMO has warned of overcrowding at the hospital. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A sign in Cork University Hospital. The INMO has warned of overcrowding at the hospital. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Overcrowding at Cork University Hospital is out of control and extremely dangerous, nurses have maintained.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said on Tuesday that the number of patients waiting for admission to the hospital was now at the highest level since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The union stated that 63 patients were waiting on trolleys in Cork University Hospital on Tuesday, with a total of 332 waiting for beds in hospitals around the country.

The INMO said the number of people waiting on trolleys in hospitals across the country last month – at 6,367 – was more than double the figure recorded in August 2020.

It said the highest trolley figures for August 2021 were in:

– University Hospital Limerick: 823;

– Cork University Hospital: 738, and

– University Hospital Galway: 563.

INMO industrial relations officer for Cork University Hospital Liam Conway said: “The situation [at the Cork hospital] is out of control and extremely dangerous. The rate of overcrowding in Cork University Hospital is now so high that we can’t maintain the proper infection control measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“There is an urgent need for additional beds and the appropriate staffing increases in the emergency department and throughout [the] hospital, but we also need more capacity in the community so people can be discharged at the right time and space is used properly.

“This is very quickly approaching the record overcrowding we saw before the pandemic, but Covid is very much still an issue. Our members and their patients are being put at risk, and it cannot be allowed to continue.”

INMO director of industrial relations Tony Fitzpatrick said the situation was “completely unacceptable”.

“Government plans for opening back up society need to include extra healthcare capacity and supports for our healthcare staff, who are burnt out and exhausted.

“Increasing pressure on our members now without proper measures to deal with the demands on the health service is going to drive nurses and midwives out of their professions and out of the country.”

Cork University Hospital said it had been exceptionally busy over the last number of days.

“Due to this increased level of activity and subsequent admissions, it is regrettable that some patients may experience a delay in the emergency department.

“The increase in attendance is due to the large number of very ill medical patients requiring admission and the impact of Covid-19 has also contributed to increased attendances in the emergency department.”