By Eoin English
MUNSTER’S newest accident and emergency unit is close to breaking point, nurses claimed last night.
Thirty-seven patients were on trolleys at Cork University Hospital's (CUH) A&E yesterday after a weekend of chronic overcrowding.
One man, who was left on a trolley in a corridor after treatment on Friday evening, remained there yesterday morning.
The Irish Nurses' Organisation said the risk to patients was "monumental."
The people on trolleys yesterday appeared to have no hope of getting a bed, the union said.
INO officer Patsy Doyle said hospital managers must resolve the situation.
She said doctors were sending more patients to the new A&E unit, opened last May, rather than to the city's other A&E units.
Other hospitals in the Cork hospital network area the Mercy and South Infirmary should take some of the A&E load, she said.
The weekend closure of a 37-bed, five-day ward added to the problem, she said.
Although the pressure eased somewhat on Saturday morning when 12 beds in that ward were opened, Ms Doyle said the ward should be opened full-time.
"It's crazy to have available beds while patients are on trolleys downstairs. Despite repeated requests hospital managers appear to be doing nothing. The hospital seems to be saying 'well this is the way it's going to be'."
Management blamed the overcrowding on an "increased level of complex and mixed emergency admissions" coupled with a rise in admissions of people with respiratory infections.
A spokesperson apologised for any distress to patients. Every effort was being made to alleviate the situation, she said.
This included opening 10 beds in the five-day ward on Saturday and six more on Sunday.
People were urged last night to contact their GPs first before going to A&E.