THE chaotic scenes at one Irish A&E unit were described last night by one patient as "absolutely unbelievable".
Rose Lyons from Bishopstown in Cork, described the overcrowding situation in Cork University Hospital's (CUH) A&E unit as "totally crazy".
Mrs Lyons had attended the A&E unit for treatment of a leg injury -- and was shocked by the scenes that greeted her as doctors and nurses battled to cope with a record backlog of patients.
"It is something that I never imagined I would see -- there were people on trolleys everywhere," she said. "It is absolutely horrendous -- there are no other words for it.
"The number of patients that are on trolleys, particularly old people, is shocking. I was horrified to see all these people on trolleys. It is just not good enough -- not in this day and age," she said.
Mrs Lyons was speaking as CUH recorded Ireland's highest national total for patients on trolleys awaiting bed assignments.
CUH had 48 patients on trolleys last Tuesday -- the highest of any Irish A&E unit.
The CUH trolley total was more than Beaumont Hospital (45) in Dublin and Limerick Regional Hospital (44).
Mrs Lyons paid tribute to CUH staff for their efforts to cope with spiralling patient numbers -- but was scathing of both the Government and HSE for not providing the resources required by staff to deal with the demand.
She said it was obvious that some very sick people were being cared for while on trolleys and were desperate for the comfort and privacy of a hospital bed.
Last night, the HSE said it had been an exceptionally busy period for CUH and that measures were being put in place to ease backlogs.
In the space of just six days, 771 patients attended CUH's A&E unit.
A CUH spokesman pointed out that, by 7pm last night, the number of patients awaiting admission from the A&E unit had been reduced from 44 to 18.
An HSE spokeaman said: "Due to this increased level of activity and subsequent admissions, it is regrettable that some patients may experience a delay in being transferred from the emergency department to a hospital bed.
"This situation is being treated as a priority by hospital management and staff and a number of steps are being taken to manage the situation."