A BANDON GP has said her patients are too afraid to attend the A&E in CUH, which earlier this week issued a ‘Status Black’ warning, due to unsafe overcrowding, resulting in average waiting times of 12 hours.
Dr Mary Roycroft said she had an 84-year-old patient who, despite sounding very unwell, refused to attend the emergency department.
‘He told us he’d rather die at home than be in there, which leaves us in a very difficult position,’ said Dr Roycroft. She added that this patient’s response would not be unique, as many other patients had expressed similar fears. ‘We can appreciate exactly why people feel that way, but they need a level of care that general practice can’t provide and you go away carrying that responsibility,’ said Dr Roycroft.
The ‘Status Black’ notice was lifted on Wednesday morning when trolley figures were reduced to 50 from 70 on Tuesday, and 54 on Monday.
But it was not before the effects of the overcrowding were experienced outside of the A&E, as an elderly man who fell on a Skibbereen street on Monday was left lying on the pavement for almost two hours, while he waited for an ambulance to take him to CUH.
The ambulance was one of eight ambulances queueing outside CUH, waiting to offload patients, as a result of the Status Black at A&E. The Skibbereen man was eventually taken to hospital by a parademic crew from Cahirciveen in Co Kerry.
Throughout the crisis, hospital management had requested that, where appropriate, the public contact their GP before coming to the A&E.
However, Dr Roycroft said such advice was pointless if people needed urgent investigations as GPs do not have access to same day x-rays or scans.
She was speaking out as she said: ‘We need people to know how bad it is. Both the hospital and GP practice are broken, but no one in power is interested in fixing them.’
A shortage of step-down beds preventing patients being moved on is one reason being cited by medics for the overcrowding this week.
Cork South West TD Minister Jim Daly and Minister for Health Simon Harris held a tele-conference call with the senior clinical and administrative managers in CUH and Cork Kerry community healthcare on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the situation. Minister Daly has been tasked with chairing a national HSE working group on managing delayed discharges in all HSE acute hospitals across the country.
Again, he pointed to a 14-bed transitional care unit in Clonakilty which frees up beds at CUH as a potential solution.
However, Independent Deputy Michael Collins linked the over-crowding at CUH with the closure of such services as the 24-hour emergency department at Bantry General Hospital, and he called for it to be reopened.
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