Cork hospital says it will have all beds available over Christmas

Full roster of staff will be on duty over the period, says hospital spokesman

Last Christmas season, between December 21st and January 7th, some 1,700 people attended the MUH’s emergency department. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Last Christmas season, between December 21st and January 7th, some 1,700 people attended the MUH’s emergency department. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times


Mercy University Hospital in Cork will have all its 255 hospital beds available over the Christmas period with a full roster of staff on duty to ensure that it can continue to provide care for all those who are admitted, a hospital spokesman has said.

The MUH will also keep its 18 step-down beds open at St Francis Transitional Care Unit on the St Mary’s Health Campus in Gurranebraher over the Christmas period. There will be a total of 271 beds available between the hospital and the step-down facility, said the spokesman.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil last Tuesday that he believed that hospitals should cancel annual leave for doctors and nurses over the Christmas period to ensure that wards can be kept open to cater for all those presenting with injuries or illness.

But Mercy University Hospital, which is the second main acute hospital on Leeside after Cork University Hospital, confirmed in a detailed statement that planning had already begun for Christmas and all beds at the hospital would be available.

“Detailed planning for the Christmas period actively commences in the weeks prior to Christmas and involves a comprehensive review of the experiences of the previous years and the deployment of the Mercy University Hospital’s well developed winter escalation plan,” said the MUH in a statement.

Escalation plan

“The escalation plan is multifaceted and includes balancing elective and emergency workloads on the basis of clinical need, manpower planning, maximisation of bed capacity in conjunction with community services and agreed ambulance protocols.”

According to the MUH, provisions are also being made for additional “surge” bed capacity in the event of a sudden increase in admissions which would see full complements of doctors, nurses and support staff in laboratory and diagnostics on duty.

MUH said last Christmas season, between December 21st, 2017 and January 7th, 2018, some 1,700 people attended the MUH’s emergency department – 359 were emergency admissions with a further 98 non-emergency admissions over the same period.

In terms of the emergency department, the busiest day over the season was December 29th, 2017, when some 142 people attended the emergency department. The quietest day was Christmas Day when just 50 people attended the emergency department.

Sufficient staff

The MUH has a total staff of 1,192, of whom 165 are doctors and 441 are nurses. Some 156 of the overall staff are paramedical staff, comprising Allied Health professionals such as radiographers, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and social workers.

In addition to medical, nursing and paramedical staff, the MUH also employs 198 people involved in support services and these include healthcare assistants, catering, household and portering staff who enable the hospital to function effectively, said an MUH spokesman.

Meanwhile Cork University Hospital has issued a brief statement confirming that sufficient staff would be rostered over the festive period.

“Cork University Hospital has, as in previous years put in place measures to address the requirement for continued patient care over the Christmas period. This includes the rostering of the relevant staff and supports to manage patient flow,” said CUH in its statement.