One of the country’s largest hospitals is having to “exchange” trolleys with other wards to keep up with emergency department demand and is moving some patients to areas where they will not be counted, it has been claimed.
Staff at Cork University Hospital have claimed these measures are being taken as a direct result of chronic problems in the wider health service, budget cuts, and staff shortages.
Speaking under condition of anonymity after 57 people were on trolleys on Tuesday, individuals claimed that, on some days, CUH’s emergency department does not have enough trolleys to cope with demand.
While the situation yesterday lessened to 29 and 329 nationally from a five-month high of 443, sources said that, when overcrowding is particularly bad, trolleys are borrowed from unused theatres and the hospital’s angiogram unit. One member of staff said this happened “on a regular basis” and, on occasion, patients have been asked to give up trolleys for others in greater need.
In addition, while the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation trolley count figures may be high, it is claimed the real figure is worse.
Multiple sources have claimed this is because patients are moved at 7am, an hour before the count, to another ward. While they are given beds, these are not officially allocated. Individuals, who are normally released later that day, are then not considered part of the trolley count, which lowers the total figure.
A HSE spokeswoman said the trolley exchange between wards was “normal practice for an acute hospital”. She said while CUH had been “very busy over the past few days, all patients requiring to be moved to a trolley for review have been accommodated” and that patient care was “paramount” to managers.
She said the emergency department problems were because “a large cohort” of current patients needed “specialist inpatient admission”. However, she insisted patients moved to different wards “have been reviewed by clinicians following a decision to admit”.
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