Kerry hospital staff outline catalogue of issues to management

The senior acute hospital director at University Hospital Kerry has met with consultants and staff amid concerns about poor conditions, low morale and the very future of the hospital
Kerry hospital staff outline catalogue of issues to management

Nurse shortages at University Hospital Kerry are now at crisis point, Siptu said, adding there is just one nurse to every 15 gravely ill patients. Picture: Domnick Walsh

The senior acute hospital director at University Hospital Kerry has met with consultants and staff amid concerns about poor conditions, low morale and the very future of the hospital.

Rising Covid cases in the region have put pressure on the Tralee hospital but senior clinical practitioners have written to the HSE highlighting a series of other problems in a letter that has been made public.

Dr Tom McCormack, on behalf of the consultant body wrote to Gerry O’Dwyer, chief executive of the South/Southwest Hospital Group saying consultants had lost confidence in the ability of the HSE “locally, regionally and nationally to provide safe, timely and effective care for our patients at UHK".

Among the Covid issues of concern are an inadequate number of single rooms and no availability of PCR testing after 8pm, the consultants wrote.

The hospital haematologist has no microscope and no office and on outpatient clinics, consultants said there was no update on the long-awaited blood sciences lab, a maternity building and paediatric assessment facilities.

There is a lack of “strategic leadership” to allow the hospital to develop as it should in order to serve the population, the consultants said.

Exodus of staff

Nursing unions have also spoken out strongly this autumn, pointing to a shortage of 100 nurses at the hospital and an exodus of staff.

The emergency department has been under immense pressure.

Nurse shortages are now at crisis point, Siptu said, adding there is just one nurse to every 15 gravely ill patients. The situation is now so “grave” that every ward is short staffed, branch organiser in the union's health division, Donie Doody said.

“This position did not arise overnight,” Mr Doody said. Skilled ward nurses are leaving the hospital, due to pressure, low morale and illness.

On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for University Hospital Kerry confirmed a meeting had taken place.

“Management at University Hospital Kerry wish to confirm that the HSE national director of acute hospitals Mr Liam Woods was on-site in UHK today. During the visit, Mr Woods met with management and staff to discuss a number of issues, including those raised in the public domain by a number of consultants based at UHK.“

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