Data provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that, on the same day as €22m worth of planned cuts to the facility were revealed, the hospital’s emergency department was struggling to cope.
According to the daily trolley count, a total of 394 people were treated on trolleys across the country yesterday.
Of this figure, 52 were cared for at CUH, compared to just 10 at the nearby Mercy University Hospital (MUH).
The rate was by far the highest in Munster, with only the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick’s count of 34 also showing high levels.
Nationally, only Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, with 37, the Mater in Dublin, with 33, and University Hospital Galway, with 30, recorded unacceptable trolley-count levels.
Kerry General saw two people on trolleys, while Ennis General recorded no patients being treated in this manner.
The CUH situation emerged on the same day as the Irish Examiner revealed the hospital’s circa-€280m budget is set to be cut by €22m as part of drastic cost-cutting plans set to be published tomorrow.
This will result in 30 beds being closed at the facility, which critics have said will exacerbate problems at the emergency department.
The region’s director of operations, Pat Healy, and a HSE South spokesperson both refused to comment on the matter until the area’s local service plan document is published at the regional health forum tomorrow.
However, sources have confirmed the significant cut is on the cards for the facility, with the nearby MUH also set to lose 18 medical and surgical beds, including six paediatric beds removed last month, in order to save the state money.
Reacting to the leaked cutback plans, Irish Patients Association chairman Stephen McMahon said he was “very concerned about the collateral damage that can happen to patients as a result of fiscal measures”.
“Where are you going to treat people, in the car park? We’re talking about patients who need to be admitted,” he said.
Health Minister James Reilly has insisted the Munster region is responding well to his Service Delivery Unit initiative to reduce emergency department delays and surgical waiting lists.
However, news of the the budget cutbacks, bed closures and trolley counts come just days after it emerged that, on three occasions in the past month, patients have been put on trolleys in a coffee shop near CUH’s emergency department due to overcrowding.