Health Minister’s ‘bizarre’ refusal to meet Limerick INMO officials 

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly with Minister of State Niall Collins speaking to journalists during his visit to Limerick yesterday

HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly’s refusal to meet with representatives of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) during his visit to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) yesterday has been described as ‘bizarre and unhelpful’.

Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City, Maurice Quinlivan said the INMO are the biggest union for the nurses and midwives and the Minister’s failure to meet with their representatives was appalling.

“The nurses are on the front lines of the overcrowding and trolley crises at this hospital. It is they that the Minister should be listening to and it is their working environment that he should seek to improve.

“It is not so long ago that high praise was offered to our nurses and midwives.

“During the periods of most uncertainty and during the worst moments of the pandemic, it was they who showed up and comforted those on hospital beds while family members weren’t allowed entry,” Deputy Quinlivan explained.

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“It was they who had to go home to their families with the trepidation that they themselves were carriers of the virus. For their representatives to be ignored is an insult to this work.

“The frontline staff at the hospital are real heroes who step up day after day at the coal face of our hospital crisis, but their representatives are ignored.

“The current working conditions in the hospital are dangerous and unacceptable.

“Recent research published by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in the UK found that there is, on average, one excess death for every 67 patients that stay in an emergency department for 8 to 12 hours.

“A wait time of this length is not uncommon for patients attending the emergency department at UHL.

“I have raised this with Minister Donnelly on numerous occasions and have invited him to meet with myself and other local Oireachtas members to discuss how this crisis can be mitigated. He has not responded.

“There were almost a 1,000 people who were forced to spend a night or more on a trolley in February in University Hospital Limerick.

“These are not just statistics; they are human beings. We know them because often they are our family, neighbours, and friends.

“In many cases they are our grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.

“The Minister was available to meet with the hospital management but not those bearing the brunt of this crisis. This was both bizarre and unhelpful.

“The time has long passed for proper solutions to be offered to solve this crisis.

“The expediting of the construction of the 96-bed unit should be a priority and there is an additional urgent need for the healthcare inspectorate, HIQA, to investigate this issue of overcrowding.

“Patients and staff deserve more from this Minister,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.