Hospital forced to cancel surgery

ONE of the country’s largest hospitals was forced to cancel all elective surgery today because of serious overcrowding problems in its accident and emergency department.

Labour’s deputy leader, Liz McManus, said yesterday’s revelation that Beaumont Hospital in Dublin was dealing with over 40 patients on chairs and trolleys was further shocking evidence of the effects of health cutbacks on ordinary people.

The hospital was even forced to re-open some of the 40 beds that were closed last May due to cutbacks when the chronic overcrowding situation worsened over the weekend.

“It is now time for a clear commitment from the Taoiseach and his Government that core, essential services will no longer be undermined and damaged by Government cutbacks,” said Ms McManus, who is also the party’s spokesperson on health.

The Irish Nurses Organisation said there must be an urgent response to the chronic overcrowding situation at Beaumont. INO Industrial Relations Officer, Philip McAnenly, said the INO warned management at last Tuesday’s National A&E Forum that a crisis would develop at the hospital unless adequate beds were provided.

Mr McAnenly said it was clear that initiatives by management to deal with the crisis were hopelessly inadequate.

“Nurses now feel that patient care and their health and safety has been compromised unnecessarily. It’s only a matter of time before there is a major incidence in that A&E,” he warned.

As far as the INO was concerned, hospital management were in breach of the agreement reached at the Labour Relations Commission over a year ago because of the A&E situation.

Beaumont tried to relieve pressure on A&E by seeking two hours protective cover late on Saturday night. This involved diverting ambulance cases for assessment, about 25% of all A&E admissions, to other hospitals in the area.

Half an hour later the hospital was informed that its protective cover was withdrawn as another major hospital, the Mater, had also sought cover.

Yesterday afternoon Beaumont again sought protective cover for two hours. Because of pressures on the Mater, this was limited to approximately 75 minutes.

A spokesperson for the hospital said they were aware that there had been exceptional pressure on their A&E service for no particular reason before the weekend build-up and on Friday decided to open up additional beds and cancel all elective surgery today.

In a bid to cope with the crisis, the hospital brought in additional agency nurses and called in off-duty staff. Consultants also came in to check on their patients to see if any were fit to be discharged.

By yesterday evening there were around 25 patients on trolleys and chairs in A&E and the hospital was hopeful that numbers would continue to reduce overnight.

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