Nursing plan for A&E trolley patients stalls due to lack of funds

A plan to have 107 nurses look after admitted patients on trolleys in emergency departments has stalled because there is no money to employ them.

General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation, Liam Doran, said both the Department of Health and the HSE agree that the nurses should be appointed.

But, he said, the department and the HSE started “ping-ponging” the matter before admitting last week that there is no funding available.

Mr Doran said a report from an expert group published last August recommended that at least 107 nurses were required on a dedicated and permanent basis to look after admitted patients in EDs.

“The idea is that the ED staff are freer to take care of the ED throughput, but the admitted patients have a dedicated cadre of nurses,” he said.

Mr Doran raised the matter when the Oireachtas joint committee on health met on Wednesday to discuss hospital overcrowding.

At the same meeting, the HSE deputy national director of the acute hospital’s division, Angela Fitzgerald, said the health authority recognised that the 107 nurses are needed.

She had calculated that 107 nurses are necessary — the number is based on a look back at the average number of trolleys in EDs.

She said it is a particular measure identified as part of the ED agreement reached with the INMO.

Ms Fitzgerald said nurses are provided from elsewhere in the hospital to manage admitted patients in EDs, but that also presents a “staffing challenge”.

She said the HSE is committed to filling 144 vacant ED posts and there is funding for that. Around 90 of the posts have been filled so far and the HSE and INMO are at one on the need to have adequate nursing staff.

“A challenge for us is attracting people into an unattractive environment. It is a chicken-and-egg situation,” she said.

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