Cork takes 'trolley capital' title as overcrowding crisis worsens
Patients in hospitals outside Dublin are now enduring the worst of the trolley crisis.
Cork has become the new "trolley capital" of Ireland as a result of its relentless hospital emergency overcrowding.
A&E gridlock is now worse in emergency departments in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Tullamore and South Tipperary than in the major Dublin hospitals.
More than 9,400 patients endured long delays on hospital trolleys last month - the highest level of overcrowding for March in more than a decade.
The extent of overflowing hospital emergency departments is revealed in an analysis by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which compiles daily trolley-watch figures. It found 9,459 languished on trolleys waiting for a bed last month - a 1pc rise on March 2006.
While the numbers waiting for a bed in the biggest hospitals in Dublin have fallen by 29pc in that time, they have escalated by 16pc in hospitals around the country.
The worst hit last month were Cork University Hospital, where 716 patients were waiting on trolleys, and University Hospital Limerick, which had 699 suffering delays.
The other blackspots were University Hospital Galway, Tullamore Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital and St James's Hospital in Dublin
The analysis reveals that although the winter peak is worst in January there is now little reprieve in later months.
The overcrowding comes despite the €40m allocated to the 'winter initiative' and promises that hospitals would aim to have no more than 236 patients on trolleys every morning.
But even by March the figures were 82pc over that target.
Commenting on the trends Liam Doran, the union's general secretary, said: "The figures for March are very disappointing.
"While progress has been made in a number of hospitals, severe overcrowding is still being experienced in many hospitals around the country."
But failure to recruit and retain nursing staff is hampering progress - despite the opening of extra beds and providing more home-care packages.
Extra facilities cannot be fully operated unless the necessary staff are hired.