Nurses protest at ‘unsafe’ overcrowding

Almost 100 nurses, members of the public and even patients, joined an hour-long rally outside Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital yesterday to protest over the “severe and unsafe” overcrowding at its emergency department.

The protest at the hospital gates was organised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), whose members are due to begin a work-to-rule on January 27.

Lorraine Monaghan of the INMO said nurses at Beaumont were extremely frustrated by the situation in the emergency department.

She said this week had been “horrendous” for nurses as trolley numbers reached record levels across the country.

The number on trolleys waiting for admission fell from a high of 601 earlier this week to 401 yesterday, according to INMO figures.

But there were still 41 people waiting for admission to Dublin’s Connolly Hospital, and in Beaumont where the protest was being staged, there were 37. Ms Monaghan said it was equivalent to the number of patients normally in an entire in-patient ward.

She said the emergency department was constantly and chaotically overcrowded.

“Behind these numbers are real people, the majority of whom are elderly, many in their 80s and 90s, due to our catchment area,” she said. “They are stuck in chairs and trolleys.”

Ms Monaghan said nurses were faced with impossible workloads and working at such a fast pace it was impacting on their own health. She said the HSE should now focus on fast-tracking the 90-plus delayed discharge patients in Beaumont to try to alleviate the pressure.

In a statement, Beaumont Hospital said it acknowledged and regretted the difficult conditions experienced by patients and staff at its emergency department.

“The hospital is one of the busiest emergency departments in Ireland, providing services to over 50,000 patients each year. In 2014, the hospital saw increased attendances at the emergency department along with an older profile and a greater complexity of patients presenting, which will continue for the coming years,” a spokeswoman said.

“The hospital has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve the patient pathway, both through the emergency department and the hospital, in addition to working closely with the community.”

She said all available bed capacity is open and 24 elective surgeries have been cancelled this week.

“Beaumont Hospital is working closely with the HSE’s initiative to tackle the issue of delayed discharges,” she said.

“Beaumont is working with other major hospitals to initiate an overseas recruitment campaign to help meet our need for nursing staff.”


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