Pressure on hospitals’ emergency departments subsided yesterday.There were 363 patients waiting in emergency departments or in wards for a bed, compared to 563 a week earlier and last Tuesday’s record high of 601.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had 34 patients waiting for beds, the highest in the country. Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda had 30 patients waiting while University Hospital Limerick had 27.
Nurses at Beaumont have already staged two protests to highlight the situation in the emergency department and will commence a work-to-rule from January 27.
A spokesperson for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) at Beaumont said they would be meeting management today at a Labour Relations Commission meeting.
INMO members at Galway University Hospital, where there were 23 patients waiting for beds yesterday, will begin a work to rule on February 3 to highlight the overcrowding issue.
Nurses at Beaumont and Galway have warned they will withdraw from non-clinical clerical and administrative issues and focus on direct patient care.
INMO’s industrial relations officer at Beaumont, Lorraine Monaghan, said the hospital’s emergency department was unsafe. “Where you have such overcrowding, coupled with insufficient staffing levels, the ability to provide safe care is compromised,” she said.
“The emergency department really does look like a warzone. When you look around all you can see are patients crammed together on trolleys, chairs, and wheelchairs.”
Clare Treacy, INMO’s industrial relations officer at Galway University Hospital, said there were 14 patients on trolleys in the hospital’s emergency department.
On Sunday, the hospital opened its surgical day unit to accommodate another 10 trolleys that were not included in the INMO’s Trolley and Ward Watch. There were nine patients in wards waiting for a bed.
Ms Treacy said there were only nine cubicles in the emergency department for adult care, so patients had to be placed head to toe on trolleys in the corridor.
There are plans to extend the emergency department. It has 75 new beds but the building project requires the closure of a 19-bed unit. It was planned to close the unit in November but that decision has been deferred until next month.
The INMO has asked hospital management to have an independent expert or experts examine the overcrowding problem in Galway as a matter of urgency.
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