The INMO requested a bespoke plan to address issues of safety and overcrowding at Letterkenny University Hospital.
It happens as the hospital remains the most crowded in the country, with 53 people still waiting on a cart there today. This brings the total to 761 people still waiting for a bed at the hospital this month.
Letterkenny University Hospital staff are experiencing burnout and unrest. They feel unsafe in the hospital environment for patients and themselves, as the Omicron version of Covid-19 spreads.
The INMO warns HSE that it has failed to meet its duty of care to provide a safe workplace.
Neal Donohoe from INMO Industrial Relations says that because of high levels in patient attendance and staffing ratios, only one nurse is available at the Emergency Department to provide care for more than 20 patients.
There are concerns over the provision and maintenance of care for extra beds and trolleys on wards. Additional staff is not being made available to provide them with care.
The nursing body expressed concern that not enough was being done to reduce the risk of covid-19 infection in the hospital.
Saolta has been made more aware by the INMO.
It is urging for urgent action to improve the hospital’s working conditions, retain staff, eliminate overcrowding, ensure patient safety, and ensure timely and safe care.
INMO statement in its entirety:
In response to Letterkenny University Hospital’s persistent overcrowding, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation demanded a bespoke plan to address the issues of staff safety and overcrowding.
Neal Donoghue, INMO Industrial Relations Officer, said:
Letterkenny University Hospital is currently experiencing high levels in patient attendance, leading to unsafe and overcrowded conditions. This is a hospital-wide problem. The Emergency Department and wards in escalation are overcrowded. This creates the perfect environment for COVID-19.
Concerns about Omicron’s rapid spread and high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 are creating unrest among the nurses, who feel unsafe in the hospital environment for both their patients and themselves.
The INMO requested information about the ventilation and air filtration at Letterkenny UH in September. Management have not yet been capable of confirming that the hospital has adequate resilience against airborne transmissions of Covid-19. We are deeply concerned by the Hospital’s excessive overcrowding.
Extra staff cannot be provided for patients who are given extra beds or trolleys to be placed on wards. Staff are concerned about the impact on patient care.
Since October, Letterkenny University Hospital is consistently ranked among the top three overcrowded hospitals. December so far has seen 708 patients on carts, accounting for 12%.
This is a serious problem for staff safety and public safety. The HSE has an obligation to provide safe work environments and they are failing to do so. Every day, nurses report that patients are more at risk due to the inability of the HSE safety and health concerns to be addressed in the hospital.
One nurse is expected to care to more than twenty patients per hour due to high patient attendance. With such low staffing ratios, it is certain that patient care will be compromised. Staff are often required to take annual leave, and staff are often forced to miss breaks because of the heavy workload. This is leading to stress and burnout in staff and is making it difficult for nursing staff to be retained.
Saolta has been made more aware of the INMO’s concerns. It is imperative that urgent action be taken to improve working conditions at the hospital, to retain employees, and to solve the overcrowding issue and ensure the public receives the safe and timely care they need.