Conditions at Cork's Mercy hospital 'unsafe and intolerable'

According to the INMO more than 379 patients have been left without a bed at the hospital this month alone
Conditions at Cork's Mercy hospital 'unsafe and intolerable'

As of this morning, there were 35 patients without beds at Cork's Mercy University Hospital. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Conditions for patients at Cork's Mercy University Hospital have become "intolerable and unsafe."

That is according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which said high numbers of patients without beds and lengthy ambulance wait times outside the hospital have created a "dangerous environment for both patients and staff.

As of this morning, there were 35 patients without beds at the hospital.

"Our members are describing conditions inside the hospital itself as unsafe and intolerable, this is coupled with a significant ambulance wait time outside of the hospital itself," said INMO industrial relations officer, Liam Conway.

According to the INMO, which monitors the number of patients waiting on trolleys at hospitals across the country each day, more than 379 patients have been left without a bed since the start of this month. Mr Conway called this figure "unsustainable."

He said there is now "a serious problem across all hospitals in Cork city when it comes to the discharging of patients back into the community". "This requires urgent political intervention in the days and weeks ahead," he said. 

Mr Conway said the current environment at the hospital meant staff were finding it "impossible to provide safe and timely care."

The volume of trolleys in the emergency department is leading to concerns around infection control and fire safety.

Mr Conway added that "urgent interventions" are now required from the South/Southwest Hospital Group, of which the Mercy is part, by way of implementing "a full escalation protocol."

"Hospital management must now curtail all non-urgent elective care," he said. 

"Additional bed capacity must be sourced in the community and from the private sector in order to alleviate serious pressure in the hospital.”

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a spokesperson for Mercy University Hospital said it is "experiencing high demand for its Emergency Department services due to an increase in the attendances of acutely ill patients, in addition to caring for frail older persons with complex needs." 

The spokesperson said it is "regrettable" that patients are experiencing significant delays and that this situation is "being treated as a priority by Hospital Management." 

"All patients are triaged, have a plan of care and are treated on the basis of clinical need when they present at the Emergency Department."

The spokesperson said the hospital has "fully implemented its Escalation Plan to deal with the high number of attendees at the Emergency Department and the concomitant demand for inpatient beds." 

"All necessary actions have been taken by the hospital to mitigate the risk including cancellation of elective work, the opening of additional surge beds, regular safety reviews, diversion of ambulance presentations and the redeployment of clinical staff to the ED. The hospital is prioritizing patients requiring urgent time sensitive care."

"Patient safety, staff safety and welfare remain the priority and the focus of the hospital is to maximise all available resources to meet the highest priority needs," the spokesperson added.

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