MORE than 80 per cent of nurses at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) always or often feel worn out by the end of the day while over 60 per cent always or often feel exhausted at the thought of another day at work.
That’s according to a survey conducted by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) ahead of a meeting with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health to discuss how persistent hospital overcrowding is impacting nurses and patient safety.
“Not only have our members been placed under enormous pressure owing to a global pandemic, but now, the endemic of consistent overcrowding is significantly impacting the mental and physical health of staff,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“As of Tuesday, March 8, a total of 21.535 patients have been waiting on trolleys so far this year, an increase of 170 per cent compared to 2021,” she added.
“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.
“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. 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.
“It is extremely disappointing that the HSE has not prioritised convening the Emergency Department Taskforce despite numerous requests.
“Government must take note of the voices from the frontline that are pointing to clinical risk, omissions of care, inhumane environments for care provision, long waiting time to be seen and then a longer time to be admitted.
“Overcrowding was not caused by Covid but it is endemic in our public health system. Winter plans are produced four months after the horse has bolted. Service plans that promise six 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,” she warned.