INMO still considering possible strike action as hospital overcrowding is set to continue

HSE warn crisis could continue for weeks yet

by Rose Barrett
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The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has made it clear it could yet commence industrial action in protest against the serious overcrowding in hospitals across the country.

Despite the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD saying this week’s overcrowding was ‘unpredicted’ and ‘unprecedented’, the crisis was anticipated since last autumn, when experts warned another belt of Covid 19 would strike along with the annual bout of influenza and respiratory illnesses.

The INMO first introduced ‘Trolley Watch’ in 2004 or Dublin, that is the number of patients on trolleys in A&Es awaiting hospital beds (now Eds – Emergency Departments. The organisation then expanded the statistic base nationally in 2005 so it pointed out yesterday on national media that the situation is being flagged constantly for the past 17-18 years!

Whilst Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD pointed out that over the last three years, ‘more beds, more critical care and more staff than ever before have been added’ but he conceded it isn’t enough.

Dr Fergal Hickey, President of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, repeatedly highlighted the failure of consecutive governments to deliver more resources, acute beds and isolation wards in hospitals across the country.

Describing the current crisis of overcrowded emergency departments, he described the mixing of vulnerable patients in EDs and lying on trolleys in corridors as ‘a recipe for disaster, waiting areas were merely big Petrie dishes of infection’.

In fact, The Dublin Gazette sourced an interview by Dr Hickey warning of the ongoing lack of acute hospital beds on RTÉ Radio in 2014 when he described overcrowded emergency departments as being tantamount ‘to throwing a match into a tank of oil.’

The HSE have further warned that the crisis could get worse not better. Sad to note that the government and public were widely praising the long hours and dedication shown by nurses and doctors in hospitals and GP clinics across the country during the height of the Covid pandemic.

The INMO warns that current staffing levels are unsafe and a serious injection of staff resources and acute beds are urgently needed.

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