CUH ‘the most overcrowded hospital in the country’

Cork University Hospital (CUH) has recorded the highest number of patients on trolleys for the second month in a row.

Figures released today by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 658 patients admitted for care during the month of April were forced to remain on trolleys at CUH — a 130% increase on the figure a decade ago. In March, the overcrowding crisis kept 716 people on trolleys in the emergency department. The problem is also acute at the Mercy University Hospital, with 228 people on trolleys during April.

INMO general secretary, Liam Doran, said: “CUH is now the most overcrowded hospital in the country. The figures in the Mercy are poor too, which confirms that Cork City is massively short of acute beds and needs immediate capital investment.”

Trolley problems at University Hospital Limerick also continue. The April figure reached 649, down 50 on the previous month, but still the second highest in the country. South Tipperary General Hospital also remains a flashpoint, with 493 people on trolleys in April. The Dublin hospitals are largely showing improvement, although figures for the Mater are high at 437.

However, the cities outside of Dublin are problematic. The ongoing overcrowding in hospitals nationwide will be discussed at the INMO’s 98th conference in Wexford which gets under way today. Among the motions is a call for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to begin an inquiry into the circumstances in which care is delivered in EDs in Ireland, “similar to inquiries of this nature carried out in other jurisdictions”.

A separate motion calls on hospital managers to provide access to a social worker, physiotherapist and occupational therapist in all 26 EDs nationwide, so as to enhance patient care, facilitate earlier discharge, and aid access to appropriate services.

Mr Doran said the latest statistics “confirm that our health services continue to be too small to adequately, and safely, meet the demands being placed upon it”.

The latest figures are released ahead of a meeting of the ED taskforce scheduled to take place next Monday.

The issue of pay will also feature heavily at this year’s INMO conference. Mr Doran said the organisation is seeking a 12% increase for members in addition to restoration of all pay cuts imposed in recent years.

This was essential to recruit and retain staff in a competitive international labour market, he said. A 12% increase would bring nurses’ pay levels on a par with other health professionals’ grades, he said.

“Once and for all this Government has got to recognise the labour market reality and as part of forthcoming pay talks, nurses must have parity with all other health professionals,” said Mr Doran.

He said a recent INMO survey showed that 80% of nurses due to graduate this year had been contacted by British employers. Just 30% have been contacted by the HSE.

The conference is taking place ahead of negotiations between the Government and public service unions which are due to commence shortly on a new public service pay agreement. The executive council will be tabling an emergency motion, for debate on Thursday morning, focusing on the INMO’s priorities going into the talks.

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