The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has warned that high numbers of patients on trolleys in hospital and high Covid-19 cases is ‘a recipe for disaster’.
The number of people with Covid-19 in hospitals in Ireland has risen to 1,042 – the highest since 12th January 2022. Letterkenny University Hospital has the highest number of Covid-19 patients, with 84 patients with the virus onsite.
Meanwhile 544 patients are on trolleys today, including 35 at the Emergency Department at Letterkenny University Hospital.
The INMO said that, from past experience, the overcrowding and virus cases will have a significantly negative impact on their ability to provide timely and safe care.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “INMO members have been sounding the alarm on the rise of trolley numbers since mid-summer, and we also urged caution on the removal of mandatory mask wearing in public spaces. We are heading into what is traditionally an extremely busy week in our Emergency Departments and last week we set out in detail what is needed now from Government at the Oireachtas committee. Furthermore, we met with the Minister for Health last Thursday evening and ED nurses from units around the country set out in detail the dangers presented for patients in overcrowded hospitals right now. There should be no doubt at this stage as to the negative effects of overcrowding.
“The HSE and political system have a responsibility to the exhausted workforce to ensure their workplaces are safe. There must be no tolerance for hospital overcrowding while a highly transmissible airborne virus is making its way around our hospitals. Improvements to air quality in our hospitals must be a priority.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that further interventions are needed: “If non-emergency services need to be curtailed in order to allow the HSE and hospital groups to get a handle on out-of-control trolley figures and COVID cases within the hospital system then that must be done.
“The HSE has a duty as an employer and as a service provider to take the necessary steps to scale up capacity. The current state of our health system is extremely concerning. It is now time for the Minister to attend the ED taskforce and to ask the HSE to put in place realistic short term pressure reliving measures.”