Declare A&E crisis a national emergency, nurses tell Ahern

NURSES are demanding that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern declare that the accident and emergency (A&E) crisis is a national emergency.

The demand comes in the wake of claims by the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) that there are more than 150 beds that can be made available to relieve the A&E crisis in the Dublin area.

INO deputy general secretary Dave Hughes said the beds remained closed because of a “bureaucratic black hole” that has emerged between the new Health Service Executive (HSE) and the former Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA).

There were also closed beds in Monaghan General Hospital that could relieve some, if not all, of the overcrowding at Cavan General Hospital and University College Hospital, Galway, where A&Es are constantly overcrowded.

Mr Hughes said one health authority had given a commitment to provide the extra beds, but the other was refusing to do so.

“In the same way as the Government has had to react in the past to disastrous flooding in the country by the injection of immediate relief, it must now do the same unblocking of all the bureaucratic barriers and provide the staff and funding to end the suffering and misery of patients on trolleys,” said Mr Hughes.

The organisation is continuing with its series of lunchtime protests at A&E units countryside.

Protests took place yesterday at Naas General Hospital, Wexford General Hospital, Tralee General Hospital and University College Hospital Galway.

At the Kerry General Hospital protest, where more than 100 people took part, INO official Michael Dineen said services at the A&E unit in Tralee could be seriously curtailed during the summer if extra staff are not recruited and facilities improved.

“We’re now in an emergency situation in the health services. There are many angry people out there and the Government will ignore them at its peril. The Government is just not responding. Unless action is taken, I can’t see how services can be maintained at present levels,” he warned.

The INO will stage their final lunchtime protests outside Loughlinstown and Blanchardstown tomorrow.

Mr Hughes also declared that the INO’s ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign will continue until the crisis was resolved.

He said the organisation will have another look at their campaign during their annual conference next week in Killarney, Co Kerry. “We certainly won’t be going away,” he said.

“The Government has been particularly arrogant towards us, because they have not responded to us at all during the campaign that had huge public support,” he pointed out. “It is a fairly pathetic response to very serious campaign.”

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