Limerick hospital statement on dialysis unit challenged

A FORMER University Hospital Limerick nurse who quit her job after 24 years says she was “forced out” by huge work burdens as a result of staff shortages and lack of support from management.

The nurse, who asked not to be named, said she is “furious” at a statement from the University of Limerick Hospitals Group in response to a story on the dialysis unit in last week’s Limerick Post that “travel” is one of the leading reasons many staff choose to leave the overcrowded hospital.

“There are no exit interviews. That’s a lie.” she said.

“I know of around 15 close colleagues, all with specialities and long service ,who left and it wasn’t because they wanted to go to Australia. It was because the working conditions were unbearable. It’s like Beirut in there,” she told the Limerick Post.

Meanwhile, a patient who has been in dialysis for more than 15 years at the Dooradoyle unit also takes issue with a number of items in the hospital response to the UHL story.

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The patient said that he has “got to know staff and I’ve said goodbye to many senior staff in the last couple of years. They tell me they are leaving because of the pressures of work. They’re not heading off to travel.”

The man also took issue with claims that patients wait no more than 15 minutes for their appointment.

“I’ve never had my treatment at the time appointed. I’ve always had to wait. There’s just not enough staff. When I started there was one nurse to three patients, now there’s one nurse to four.

“There are four patients to each bay so if one of the nurses goes on a break, the other one has to look after eight patients. If there’s a medical incident, that’s just not enough staff to deal with it. They’re run off their feet.”

The nurse who left said that she and her former colleagues “loved their jobs”: “We studied and got qualifications in a speciality and we loved working in that area. But in the last few years it has all changed.”

“I didn’t want to leave the job that I was qualified to do and had a huge amount of experience in to go out and start all over again in a different area of nursing but I was forced out. We all were.”

Describing the duties each nurse must perform, she said that it is a complicated procedure to set a patient up for dialysis, then to change over and treat another patient.

“A lot of the people who are in for dialysis are elderly and many are wheelchair users. They are wrecked after four hours on the machine and they have to be looked after and lifted in and out. Patients don’t just jump up off the bed and leave – it can be exhausting and they need to be minded.

“One nurse to four patients means that if a patient has a problem, we have no time to spend with them. That’s not nursing.”