A MAJOR recruitment drive for over 80 new healthcare staff is underway at Letterkenny University Hospital in an attempt to ensure safe staffing levels across the hospital.
Under the national initiative for Implementation Of Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing And Skill Mix, Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) has recently received approval for a total of 78 new posts – 55 new nursing posts and 23 new Healthcare Assistant posts.
In addition, LUH is currently in the process of recruiting seven Candidate Advanced Nurse Practioner posts for the areas of cardiology, ED rapid access, diabetic nursing, respiratory nursing, ED children’s, IBD and dermatology access to care.
It comes as Saolta confirmed that 70 new nurses have already been recruited at LUH to date in 2023.
A spokesperson for Saolta said, “Recruitment is currently underway to fill these posts locally and at Saolta level through overseas recruitment.
“Patient safety is at the forefront of everything we do and staff prioritise to ensure critical need is met.
“Nursing staffing levels across all our hospital sites, and the improvement of these levels, is a priority for the Saolta Group.”
INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Letterkenny, Neal Donohue had previously expressed his concerns that understaffing in the hospital could lead to ‘unsafe patient care’. He believes if these new vacancies were filled, patient and staff care would improve massively.
Mr Donohue said, “There are concerns the understaffing could lead to comprised care and poor outcomes for patients but also stress and burn out among nurses.
“There needs to be legislation in place to protect the levels of staffing and to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff,” said Mr Donohue.
Recruitment and retention of nurses remains an issue at LUH and across the country.
Saolta said they are committed to the recruitment drive as safe staffing levels remains a top priority.
A spokesperson for Saolta said, “Recruitment of nursing and midwifery staff is a significant challenge both nationally and internationally.
“The Saolta Group understands the resourcing challenges that we face as we are operating in a fiercely competitive global recruitment market.
“There are many factors which create challenges to the overall growth of our workforce such as the significant gap between supply and demand, an ageing workforce, competition from abroad, the reversal of HRA and the availability of affordable accommodation.
“Nursing staffing levels across all our hospital sites, and the improvement of these levels, is a priority for the Saolta Group.
“The Saolta Hospital Group has undertaken a significant overseas nurse recruitment campaign for additional staff for all hospitals in the Group, including LUH, as there is high demand for nurses within Ireland and internationally.
“This is an ongoing process with rolling recruitment campaigns for nursing staff.
“The Saolta Group has recruited over 500 International Nurses; this included a team of senior nurses travelling to India and the Philippines to recruit.”
Saolta also added that the Pathfinder project commenced in LUH in April 2023 to support admission avoidance by providing assessment and treatment at home.
An ambulance liaison person is also now based in the ED to support nursing staff in caring for patients in ambulances.
The hospital has also recently appointed a GP Liaison Senior nurse to be the link between GPs throughout Donegal and the LUH Emergency Department.