UHG patients safety put at risk by inadequate staffing levels, say nurses

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Over 96% of nurses and midwives at University Hospital Galway believe the levels of staffing and skill mix in their area are not appropriate, an Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) survey has found.

Of the INMO members who said that there were inadequate levels of staff at UHG, more than 65% felt that patient safety was put at risk ‘often’, ‘very often’ or “always”.

The survey was carried out ahead of an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health which heard how hospital overcrowding is impacting nurses and midwives as well as patients’ safety.

At the meeting the INMO called on the Oireachtas to ensure that there is zero tolerance for overcrowding in our hospitals.

Speaking ahead of the Committee meeting, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha welcomed the Oireachtas acting so quickly on the request for the Health Committee to discuss the stark levels of overcrowding in Irish hospitals.

“As of March 8th, 21.535 patients have been on trolleys so far this year, a sharp increase of over 170% compared to 2021,” said Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“Our nurses and midwives are under severe pressure; they are dealing with huge numbers of COVID and non-COVID patients presenting at emergency departments coupled with inadequate staffing levels.”

Ní Sheaghdha said that we are swiftly ‘moving back to the bad old days’ of consistently seeing high numbers of patients on beds, yet we have come so used to these figures that hearing stories of patients waiting on trolleys for over 54 hours.

“We know that if a patient is on a trolley for more than five hours it can have a significant knock-on impact on their health and indeed their mortality,” she said.

“State agencies such as the Department of Health, HIQA and the HSE need to step up to their responsibilities they have here and take decisive action.”

Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that ED overcrowding was not caused by COVID-19; however, unfortunately, today, it is endemic in the public health system.

“Winter plans are produced four months after the horse has bolted. Service plans that promise 6 hour wait times are unacceptable.

“We need a government led and overseen implementation of the agreed reform plan. If the Government doesn’t intend to fully fund and implement the reforms, then our members will take action.”