Number on trolleys at CUH hits highest in year

The number of people forced to wait on trolleys at one of the country’s largest hospitals, Cork University Hospital, is at its highest in a year.

Nationally, the number has reached its highest in almost five months.

Figures revealed by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that, despite Health Minister James Reilly’s emphasis on an improved winter situation this year, Ireland’s trolley crisis is continuing to impact on patient care.

According to the union’s statistics, which the HSE disputes due to the time of day they are calculated, 443 people were waiting on emergency department trolleys across Ireland’s public hospital system yesterday morning.

This is the highest rate since Oct 11 last year when 471 were on trolleys.

The 443 includes 38 patients at Beaumont in Dublin; 30 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, Co Louth; 29 at University Hospital Galway; and 28 at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, Co Limerick.

There were 57 patients at CUH being treated on emergency department trolleys yesterday, according to the INMO.

This figure is the highest the hospital has faced since 59 patients were placed on trolleys on Mar 29 last year — 11 months ago — and is one of the worst single hospital trolley count levels recorded since the national crisis over the Christmas period 2010-2011.

The rate is also one of the highest in any of Ireland’s public hospitals over the past 12 months.

Of the other Munster facilities, Kerry General in Tralee saw four people on trolleys, the Mercy University Hospital in Cork City had 14, Waterford General had eight and South Tipperary General 13.

The Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ennis, Co Clare, did not have any patients on trolleys during the timeframe examined.

In the five months before yesterday’s 443 figure, the next highest national daily trolley counts were on Feb 21, 2012 (420); Nov 8, 2011 (415); and Oct 26, 2011 (429).

Over the past year, CUH’s next worst trolley count rates have been on Friday, Feb 24, 2012 (40), Tuesday, Oct 11 (42) and Tuesday, May 10 (54).

The CUH situation comes after it emerged at the start of this month that the facility’s emergency department has been so over-crowded since the start of the year that medics have had to put patients on trolleys in a nearby coffee dock three times due to a lack of space.

The coffee dock area is leased out to a third party, which is understood to have raised concerns about the practice with hospital officials.

Dr Reilly has recently set up a special delivery unit group, which he said was helping to address the situation.

This group is also seeking to have no patient waiting on a trolley for more than nine hours, and that 95% of attendees are either sent home or admitted, by the end of this year.


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