Record overcrowding at Cork University Hospital where 88 patients wait for beds

It comes as 529 patients are waiting for beds today in Ireland's hospitals
Record overcrowding at Cork University Hospital where 88 patients wait for beds

Conditions in the hospital are described as “completely unworkable” by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). File photo: Larry Cummins

Overcrowding at Cork University Hospital (CUH) reached record-breaking levels on Wednesday with conditions at the hospital deemed "completely unworkable".

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's (INMO) trolley watch figures found 88 people were waiting for a bed at CUH today — a new record — with the union saying staff “will not tolerate another winter where they are exposed to excessive workloads which leads to excessive burnout”.

It comes as 529 patients nationally are waiting on trolleys across Irish hospitals, with 73 patients awaiting beds in University Hospital Limerick. INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha stated today is “another worrying day in the Irish health service”.

“We are on a very dangerous path to unprecedented hospital overcrowding this winter and beyond,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.

Tuesday's Budget 2023 announcement saw the overall allocation for health rise to €23.4bn, with an increase in core expenditure of €1.3bn to facilitate the hiring of additional staff.

However, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the budget “needs to be ambitious when it comes to increasing capacity but also ensuring that beds are not just open in a vacuum and staffed adequately”.

“Our daily trolley figures indicate a real problem all across the western seaboard and the Mid West," she said.

Nurses in these hospitals are incredibly burnt out and indicating that they are working in unsafe staffing situations before the worst of the winter has even hit.

She stated that the INMO will now seek to engage with the relevant health and safety authorities such as the HSA and Hiqa, while also seeking fire safety inspections in areas of overcrowding.

INMO industrial relations officer, Liam Conway said: “The bed deficit that currently exists in both CUH and the community is completely unacceptable.

“There is no real or meaningful plan to support the CUH Emergency Department and its surrounds when it comes to increasing bed capacity in the months ahead,” Mr Conway added.

He further said that “urgent engagement is required to ensure that discharge facilities are available in the community” and that a bespoke taskforce is now needed to tackle the ongoing issues in CUH.

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