THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned that overcrowding levels and bed capacity issues at Letterkenny University Hospital is “unprecedented”.
The union has urged the government to call out hospital overcrowding around the country as “an out and out crisis”.
Forty three patients were awaiting beds in Letterkenny University Hospital yesterday while 65 patients were on a trolley in Sligo University Hospital, a combined north west total of 111 patients.
Letterkenny was the fourth most overcrowded hospital in the country last month.
INMO official for Letterkenny hospital, Neal Donohoe, told the Donegal News members are in burn out.
“What we are seeing in Letterkenny University Hospital is totally unprecedented. Our members are overwhelmed with what they’re trying to cope with at the moment.
“They are completely burnt out anyway from the onset of Covid. It has been relentless for the last couple of years and now they are told that it’s going to get worse.
“Our members cannot continue to work from crisis to crisis forever. And we are very concerned about how it is going to impact on the health services into the future.
“In this very immediate sense, we need the HSE at national level to come out and do something urgent to resolve this for members and the patients they want to care for in a safe environment.”
General Secretary of the INMO Phil Ní Sheaghdha said no hospital was unaffected by overcrowding yesterday, with patients on trolleys or chairs in emergency departments or elsewhere in hospitals.
“We again repeat our call for the current approach of telling people just to avoid hospitals to cease. The focus should be on providing supplemented emergency supports until the end of February.
“It is time for the Government to call this what it clearly is – an out and out crisis. A crisis warrants an extraordinary response from Government and the HSE.”
Phil Ní Sheaghdha said INMO members are treating patients in the most undignified conditions because of the situation.
“When nurses who are at the frontline dealing directly with patients are often the ones apologising to patients and their families on behalf of the State because of the chaotic conditions are calling on the Government to take action, including but not limited to, the immediate cessation of all non-urgent activity and the introduction of a time-limited mask mandate, then it must not continue to fall on deaf ears.
“Our members are treating patients in the most undignified conditions. This is not the type of care they should be providing in a country that has the resources to provide additional capacity and support.
“Nurses and other healthcare staff cannot continue to weather this storm without adequate support and protection from their employer, it will add to the increasing intention to leave of staff which is exactly what this health service does not need.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is to meet with Cabinet ministers to update them on the spiraling crisis. He has acknowledged that people will die because of risks posed by overcrowding in emergency departments.
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