SIPTU representatives have today (Friday 29th November) demanded that an immediate contingency plan is put in place to deal with the unacceptable obstruction of ambulance resources at Cork University Hospital (CUH). SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Our members are deeply concerned in the CUH and beyond that the overcrowding crisis is now obstructing them from doing their jobs effectively. We have an unacceptable situation where ambulance professionals and very expensive equipment is being held up for hours while other patients need immediate care. This is not sustainable. We need an immediate contingency plan to deal with this. As we enter the winter period this problem is only more likely to get worse and we need action now.” He added: “The reality is we need to see a dramatic increase in bed capacity at CUH to alleviate overcrowding and trolley pressure and to assist our members in the National Ambulance Service in the hand-over of patients.” SIPTU Industrial Organiser, Sharon Cregan, said: “Delays for ambulance personnel is becoming more and more frequent at the CUH and this is primarily due to overall lack of capacity in all Cork hospitals. The overcrowding at CUH is chronic and has been for some time. However, it is further compounded of late with the amount of ‘winter type’ medical conditions that more members of the public are presenting with including respiratory conditions and flu type symptoms.” “Our members are also working through delays in releasing/handing over patients to the care of the hospital staff and the distress this can cause patients. This is compounded by the non-availability of ambulances to be discharged to further calls from the public and is putting immense pressure on Ambulance staff and further exacerbating the distress for ill patients, some of whom are very seriously ill and who have to endure long waits in the back of an ambulance at the CUH ambulance bay.” She added: “In addition, this is causing very serious overrun situations for our members working across all grades who have no choice but to remain with their ill patients for very lengthy periods, well beyond their end of shift finishing times.”