The Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore is currently in crisis as a result of overcrowding and understaffing.
That’s according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which yesterday (Thursday), called on the HSE to immediately recruit nurses and other frontline staff to fill existing vacancies and allow the hospital open to full capacity.
The union recorded 28 people waiting on trolleys at the hospital yesterday morning, but the HSE said by lunchtime this had been reduced to 19 and it was working on a number of initiatives to reduce the numbers on trolleys.
Speaking yesterday, INMO industrial relations officer Lorraine Monaghan said the staffing and overcrowding situation at Tullamore hospital has gone from “bad to worse”.
“Our members have serious concerns with regard to their ability to deliver safe patient care,” she said. “The hospital is operating with 63 less nursing staff than it had in 2009 while at the same time experiencing a significant rise in activity levels.
This situation is unsustainable. Patient care is being compromised and staff working on the frontline are at breaking point as they are faced with unmanageable workloads and mounting pressure that they have no control over.”
According to the INMO from Monday to Wednesday this week there were 57 patients on trolleys in Tullamore hospital.
Yesterday they recorded 19 on trolleys in the hospital’s emergency department and nine more on already full wards.
In addition they say a 19-bed medical ward in the hospital is now closed due to an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.
According to INMO figures nursing numbers at Tullamore hospital has fallen from 410 whole time equivalents in 2009 to 347 at present. This fall has been accompanied by an increase in activity of between 25 and 30 per cent, they say.
“The hospital has the capacity to open additional beds,” Ms Monaghan said. “In fact the actual capacity for the hospital is 322 beds but funding is provided for only 259, 19 of which are now temporarily closed due to the winter vomiting bug. The opening of additional beds, with appropriate staffing, would mean that patients would not be exposed to the inhumane and undignified conditions that they are currently faced with.”
A statement issued on behalf of the HSE yesterday said Tullamore hospital is working on a number of initiatives to reduce the numbers of people on trolleys. It said 19 people were on trolleys as of lunchtime yesterday, and added that restrictions in access in relation to a number of medical beds was an “additional challenge” for staff as a result of an outbreak of the norovirus.
“Approval has been given by the HSE to recruit a number of nurses and these posts are currently being processed by the NRS,” the same statement said, howwever. It also said that Tullamore hospital is working closely with its community partners and the office of the regional director of performance and integration to expedite discharges of medically discharged patients to appropriate step down care settings.