Over 600 patients have been left waiting on trolleys in Cork University Hospital (CUH) so far this month, which is significantly higher than the figure for the entire month of May last year.
According to the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Oragnisation (INMO), between May 1 and 24, there were 611 patients on trolleys waiting for a inpatient bed.
During the entire month of May in 2017, 401 patients were left waiting on trolleys.
The INMO said that CUH ‘remains one of the hospitals with persistent high numbers of patients on trolleys on a daily basis due to the lack of bed capacity within the hospital and across Cork city and county'.
It pointed out that there is a lack of step-down and community hospital beds for patients who need further care before they return home, and it criticised ‘continuous attempts' by the HSE to reduce staffing levels in some community hospitals in the region in order to cut costs.
It insisted that this will only exacerbate problems in Emergency Departments (EDs) in Cork and Kerry.
"These figures highlight that the problem is only getting worse. Our members working in the ED and on the wards are close to burnout trying to manage additional admitted patients on trolleys as there is a lack of bed capacity," commented INMO industrial relations officer, Liam Conway.
The INMO has called for an emergency response from hospital management and the South/South West Hospital Group.
"There is an urgent requirement for a local and national response to the deepening crisis in CUH due to the demands now placed on the service," Mr Conway added.