AT least 20 more nurses need to be hired to safely get through the working week at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
The call comes after a number of surgical procedures were cancelled this Wednesday as 35 patients were left waiting on trolleys in the emergency department. And INMO industrial relations officer Mary Fogarty said there were an additional 39 patients dispersed around the hospital without a designated inpatient bed or adequate nursing cover.
Unsafe levels of overcrowding were “now a regular occurrence at the hospital and tonight the ward known as 1B, which is to be the new acute medical assessment once that is up and running, will be accommodating some of the overflow”, she said.
“This is being staffed through overtime, agency staff and pulling in nurses from other wards or getting people who work part-time to work longer hours,” said Ms Fogarty, adding it would be more cost-effective for the HSE simply to hire permanent staff than engage in firefighting as gaps in cover emerge.
A number of elective procedures had to be cancelled on Wednesday and extra ward rounds were carried out to alleviate a build-up the HSE said was “a result of a post bank holiday rise in attendances at the emergency department”.
“We are appealing to the public to co-operate and to attend their GPs wherever possible before presenting at the emergency department.”
Interviews are taking place to recruit nurses but Ms Fogarty said it was unclear whether these would only replace some of the 30 staff who left under the public service retirement scheme last month or were additional staff. The INMO estimates that at least 20 extra nursing posts need to be filled on a weekly basis at the Regional if the now-chronic overcrowding is to be overcome.