The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called on the HSE to take extra measures to protect the nursing and midwifery workforce.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said that it is a very different January in the health service this year, as there are huge increases in the number of patients on trolleys and a high number of nurses and midwives on COVID-related leave.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that yesterday, over 353 patients were on trolleys – a 100% increase on the number of patients on trolleys compared to this day last year.
“Our nursing and midwifery rosters are depleted,” he said, which is causing difficulties in filling rosters.
“According to our own calculations based on figures provided by the HSE, 7.29% of nurses are on COVID-related leave at present.
“We know that COVID outbreaks are higher in healthcare settings compared to any other setting.
“The HSE must take meaningful, long-lasting action to protect our nursing and midwifery workforce. That includes curtailing non-emergency activity until the end of January at least and making improvements to air quality in our hospitals.”
He said that while they welcome the calls from the HSE Chief Executive for hospitals to curtail all non-emergency care for the next two weeks, they believe that this should be extended until the end of January at least to give nurses and midwives some chance of being able to carry out their work safely.
“Air quality in our hospitals continues to be a huge problem while overcrowding continues to be allowed,” he said.
“We believe that as an employer, the HSE has an obligation to provide proper air filtration units such as HEPA filters across our hospitals, especially in overcrowded Emergency Departments and waiting areas.
“It has been especially difficult for nurses and midwives over the last three weeks in particular, they are working in extremely difficult circumstances. The HSE as an employer must do everything it can to protect this workforce, who are the most exposed to this virus day in and day out.”