An elderly man had to wait 30 hours for a hospital bed at the weekend as patients all over Münster have increasing problems accessing hospital care.
At Limerick University Hospital (UHL), the pressure on the beds was so great that a 71-year-old man waited 30 hours on a trolley on Sunday and Monday before a hospital bed was vacated.
His son Brian Downes said the situation was “farcical and dangerous”.
Mr Downes said trolleys lined both sides of a corridor in the area where his father was placed, only inches apart.
“It was just crazy. All I saw were older people, mostly over 70, and everyone on trolleys. It was heartbreaking, “he said on Tuesday. “The staff was very nice and made the most of what they had.”
Mr Downes, who lives in Mallow, Co. Cork, said that patients have been affected by the closings of emergency rooms in smaller hospitals, moving everyone to UHL.
“This is a problem that the government needs to solve,” he said. “It’s not just in Limerick, there are problems in Cork too, it’s nonsense.”
He called on the government to increase funding for the region.
“It’s very unfair. I can fully understand why nurses and doctors don’t want to work in the Irish system.
“This is about politicians and bureaucrats and the inability to properly organize people or equip professionals who do a really tough job,” said Downes, a management consultant.
A UL Hospital Group spokesperson said: “We apologize to Mr. Downes and all patients who have faced long waits for a bed. This is not the care we want to provide to our patients and we want to reassure patients and their families that management and staff are making every effort to minimize waiting times for admitted patients. ”
The hospital was very busy, averaging 216 people a day and more than 240 for three days that month, compared to 195 patients before the pandemic.
There were also delays in patients in Cork this week. Patients who arrived at Cork University Hospital’s (CUH) Emergency Room (ED) on Monday said they had to wait up to 13 hours to see a doctor, while the wait at Mercy University Hospital was estimated at eight hours.
Admitted patients also faced waiting times, with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization counting 20 people on carts in Mercy and 31 in CUH on Tuesday morning.
A spokeswoman for both hospitals said they had been “exceptionally busy in recent weeks” with an increase in “acutely ill patients in addition to caring for the frail elderly with complex needs”.
“It is unfortunate that some patients may experience a delay in the emergency room and that this situation is treated as a priority,” she said.
Meanwhile, HSE workers in areas with a red alert at Storm Barra have been asked to arrive at work before 6 a.m. and stay on site until the travel warning is lifted at 9 p.m. Tuesday. An email from the Forsa union reminded workers that they can only get emergency leave pay for one day.