Limerick hospital set for fresh crisis with no jobs for graduate nurses and service suspensions likely

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Limerick hospital set for fresh crisis with no jobs for graduate nurses and service suspensions likely

Suspension of some services in Limerick hospitals is likely with the news that up to 80 graduate nurses who had been part of frontline staff while training will not be offered contracts

LIMERICK has been plunged into a fresh healthcare crisis as more than 80 skilled nurses and midwives will soon leave their internships without the promise of a job, forcing many vital services to be suspended.

A total of 55 nurses and 29 midwives from University of Limerick will complete their internships in the UL Hospitals Group within the next fortnight, and will be ready to join the workforce.

However, following financial controls imposed by the HSE, it is understood that no contracts have been offered to any of the graduates. If no contracts are offered, this will lead to 84 fewer frontline staff at UHL, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Croom Orthopaedic and Nenagh.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and hospital management will now hold emergency crunch talks on Friday at 12.30pm, to prepare for the worst-case scenario if the HSE does not lift financial restrictions.

A spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group told the Limerick Leader: “Graduate nurses and midwives are due to complete their studies shortly.  UL Hospitals Group, along with other hospital groups and community health organisations, are authorised to retain our nursing and midwifery graduates within our current budget limits.

“UL Hospitals Group has to comply with the current national recruitment controls which requires appointments to be approved nationally.”

INMO Mid-West representative Mary Fogarty said that some students have already completed their internship, with the remainder due to finish in the next two weeks.

“Services will have to  be shut down, there is no doubt. We are now engaging with the HSE on what services will have to close. There is no way they can sustain with that level of overcrowding right across the hospital at that level of shortage of frontline staff. They will have to curtail services. They will be looking at day case surgery, elective work also being suspended until this is addressed,” she told the Limerick Leader this Wednesday. 

This follows an unscheduled, snap inspection of the emergency department by Minister for Health Simon Harris this Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday saw one of the highest ever rates of overcrowding, with 76 patients being treated on trolleys in the ED and in the wards.

“In there, they are so overcrowded, it is so tight on staff, it’s a patient safety matter every single day. This will tip University Hospital Limerick into absolute spin into what’s going to be a very bad outcome,” Ms Fogarty said. 

One student, speaking on behalf of a group of disappointed students, told the Leader that many are already thinking about emigrating or “leaving the practice altogether”.

“Many permanent staff who have been employed for years and work under constant pressure and wish we could be employed, often tell us to go into other work as its just not worth it. Many have told us to move abroad to work in nicer areas where we would be greatly appreciated, like the UK, Australia and New Zealand. They tell us the working conditions are great, the pay is fantastic and they wish they could go back. Its hard not to think about emigrating.”

The students commenced their paid internship in December 2018, and have worked 39-hour weeks since. The student, who did not wish to be named, said in first year, they completed eight 35-hour weeks unpaid; 12 35-hour weeks unpaid in second year; followed by 19 35-hour weeks unpaid in third year, as part of their academic programme.

Ms Fogarty said: “They need them, but they can’t get the go-ahead to employ them.”