Increase in number of nurses at Limerick dialysis unit

MANAGEMENT at University Hospital Limerick has announced recruitment of six new nurses for the dialysis unit, following heavy criticism of staff-patient ratios and practices in the unit.

The hospital also responded to further criticisms from a current patient and former nurse who resigned after 25 years, citing untenable working conditions as her reason for leaving.

“We have recently completed a recruitment drive for renal nurses and as a result there will be six nurses joining the dialysis unit. Two nurses are starting next week and the remaining four between now and April,” a UHL spokesman said.

In a statement to the Limerick Post after an article highlighted complaints of too few nurses for too many patients, the hospital says that there “are no national guidelines for nurse to patient ratios within haemodialysis”.

“We have a local agreement of a 1:3 ratio in UHL. However, due to short-term sick leave, we cannot always maintain this. When possible, nurse ratios are 1:3 with acute patients and 1:4 with chronic patients. These are appropriate thresholds to ensure the safety of patients and staff in the unit.”

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The statement denied claims concerning long waits for appointed treatment times, saying that “both nurses and healthcare attendants work extremely hard to ensure patients are connected within 15 minutes of their allocated appointment time, as opposed to their arrival time. There are a number of factors outside of our control, such as tending to unwell patients.”

The statement also denied claims that here are no exit interviews conducted among staff leaving, saying that “to date we have had no reports of people leaving due to stress”.

“We appreciate that nurses in the unit are providing additional support during a time when all health services are facing staffing challenges. These staff maintain an excellent service for the patients.

“The dialysis unit continues to support staff through monthly staff meetings where staff can raise any concerns they may have.”