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Hospitals will be in ‘perilous state this winter’ unless there is meaningful intervention, says INMO

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said Ireland needs to train more nurses and put retention measures in place as a matter of urgency

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Seoirse MulgrewIndependent.ie

Hospitals will be in a “perilous state this winter” unless there is “meaningful intervention” from the Government and the HSE, according to Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) General secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

She was speaking as the INMO’s ‘trolley watch’ figures showed that a total of 10,679 patients admitted to hospital had to wait on trolleys during the month of October.

“We count on a daily basis the number of people who are actually admitted, so these aren’t people waiting before they see somebody, they’re actually sick enough to be admitted, they’ve been through all the emergency department waits and they’re out the other side,” she told RTÉ’s This Week programme on Radio One.

“They have to be admitted to hospital but there are no beds for them, 393 of those this month were children under the age of 16, it’s very concerning. We used to not count children on trolleys because it wasn’t a phenomenon up until 2018.

“But since 2018, we have been counting and the numbers are getting higher so what that tells us is we’re still very reliant on hospitals for the provision of healthcare obviously and that isn’t decreasing, it’s increasing.

“So, therefore we have to look at the bed situation. The new children’s hospital, everybody keeps quoting it as being the cure, but the problem is there isn’t going to be a huge amount of additional beds.

“Plus, we know that there are 13 sites around the country who look after children, they’re reporting to us that they’re not satisfied that they have the appropriate nursing or medical staff with the skills they need to look after the children.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said Ireland needs to train more nurses and put retention measures in place as a matter of urgency as healthcare staff are a “scarce resource” throughout the world.

“We don’t train enough nurses in this country in this special discipline, when we do, Great Ormond Street are here very quickly to recruit them from us and they succeed, so we keep making the same mistakes over and over again,” she said.

“We do a really good job when we train our medical staff, they work very hard in our Irish public hospitals and then they’re poached. That shouldn’t be happening, we should be treating them better both in training and when they qualify because they’re extremely important right now.

Meanwhile Ms Ní Sheaghdha also called for reintroduction of mandatory face masks in public settings.

“The most important issue is we have a crisis right now, the hospitals are overcrowded, people are waiting 15 or 16 hours in some cases,” she said.

“We need to go back to basics, if the number of people who are presenting with Covid to our hospitals is increasing, the number of people getting Covid because they’re in overcrowded hospitals is increasing, we need to start really calling it and saying look mask wearing is one very simple issue which prevents transmission, let’s make it mandatory.”

INMO ‘trolley watch’ figures showed that a total of 10,679 patients admitted to hospital had to wait on trolleys during the month of October.

It said this is the second highest October on record.

The union noted this was a more than 25pc increase on the same period last year and more than double the figures for October 2020.

Some 393 of those without a hospital bed were children under the age of 16, which is the worst month for paediatric overcrowding on record, the INMO said.


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