THE emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) was under severe pressure again this week with 43 patients waiting on trolleys for admission.
The new crisis comes just a week after Health Minister Leo Varadkar gave the go-ahead to employ 25 extra nurses for the department.
Meanwhile, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), has called for the immediate recruitment of nurses nationwide and an end to what they describe as the “failed strategy of employing yellow pack nurses,” referring to the graduate employment scheme.
Referring to recent comments by Minister Kathleen Lynch regarding the imminent retirement of 1,000 nurses, an INMO spokesperson said the union leaders “firmly believe the Minister is completely underestimating the crisis and its impact on the provision of health services.
“The INMO would remind the Minister, health employers and government that, over the past five years, they have implemented a recruitment embargo which has resulted in the loss of over 5,000 nursing and midwifery posts. The impact of this misguided policy is that services have been left understaffed, posts have been left unfilled and our young graduate nurses/midwives have left, in their thousands, to work in other countries where they are sought after and valued”.
The union is calling for “an immediate, and sustained, recruitment campaign which must involve the immediate abolition of the flawed insulting yellow pack graduate nurse programme; the offering of permanent posts, not short-term temporary posts; the granting of full incremental credit to all nurses/midwives; the re-introduction of nationwide post-graduate education opportunities which will be fully funded by health employers; and the payment of relocation expenses.
A spokeswoman for the University Hospital said the recruitment drive for nurses has begun but could not say when they might make an appearance in the emergency department or on the wards.
Asked what was causing the back-up she said there are “a lot of very sick people here and it is taking longer to deal with them”.