Overcrowding at Letterkenny Hospital not sustainable

Aerial view of the Letterkenny University Hospital campus with the ED in the foreground. Picture: Declan Doherty

Aerial view of the Letterkenny University Hospital campus with the ED in the foreground. Picture: Declan Doherty

THIS morning there were 45 patients waiting for beds in Letterkenny University Hospital and all elective work in theatres and the Day Services Unit has been cancelled.
The Emergency Department National Escalation Policy has been applied with management opening three escalation areas to house some of these patients, while others are being nursed in treatment rooms or on ward corridors.
The Day Services Unit nursing staff are looking after patients in the overflow escalation areas. This situation has progressively worsened over the past two weeks.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has learned that there are over 20 patients in the hospital who have been clinically discharged, to other services, which are unavailable at this time.
The public continue to self-present at the Emergency Department despite being made aware of the bed crisis at the hospital. Patients continue to be referred by GPs.
The hospital has seen an increase of 10% in ED attendances since January this year. This record overcrowding is very disappointing and is further evidence that the measures taken to date, while welcome, are insufficient to deal with this 10% increase in attendance. Special emergency and immediate measures are now required.
INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Mrs Maura Hickey, speaking today said the volume of overcrowding in Letterkenny University Hospital is not sustainable and cannot be allowed to continue.
“It is imperative that additional bed capacity (in both acute and continuing care) and extra home help and home care packages are provided, with full funding, immediately, to ease this crisis situation.
“These patients, waiting for beds in the hospital and community hospitals, are individual people who require admission. Their loss of dignity, privacy and access to care in an appropriate environment cannot be forgotten and should be the HSE’s priority.
“Staff are increasingly struggling to deliver a high standard of care in an unsafe environment. This is an impossible working environment for staff and contravenes Health and Safety legislation which imposes an obligation upon all employers to maintain a safe working environment. This cannot continue and sustained actions must be taken to increase capacity with additional appropriate staffing to deal properly and safely with every person who presents for care and attention,” Ms Hickey said.
“This is such a crisis the INMO is also calling on HSE management to immediately engage with neighbouring health services, including in Northern Ireland, to see what additional capacity it can supply in the interests of patient care,” she added.

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