Hospital staff shortages putting patients at risk

by Alen McMahon

Patient care is at risk in Dublin hospitals due to staff shortages with up to 350 staff vacancies at Beaumont, Connolly, and the Mater Hospital this month alone.
In a question put forward by Cllr Noeleen Reilly (SF) at the Regional Health Forum for the Dublin and North East constituencies as to how these vacancies are broken down, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) stated that there are approximately 195 vacancies at Beaumont Hospital, 61 vacancies at Connolly Hospital, and 91 vacancies at the Mater Hospital.
When asked to explain what is being done about the staff shortages across Dublin hospitals, a spokesperson for RCSI said: “The RCSI Hospitals Group recognises the need for ongoing recruitment drives due to the movement of staff across the HSE, to other healthcare services in Ireland and abroad. Recruitment campaigns have been local, national and international with present ongoing campaigns.”
The spokesperson added: “All newly-qualified nurses in Beaumont Hospital and Connolly Hospital are being offered permanent job contracts.”
While some staff grades and areas can be difficult to recruit such as medical scientists, radiotherapists, non consultant hospital doctors in specialities (orthopaedics & anaesthetics), psychologists and nursing (theatre, ICU and endoscopy staff nurses), the Irish Nursing and Midwives Association (INMO) believes that there are many other issues behind staff shortages in nursing.
Lorraine Monaghan, INMOs industrial relations officer for North Dublin told the Gazette: “The problem for nursing is in recruiting and retaining staff. This is down to bad working conditions, unmanageable workloads due to staff shortages, and major competition from nursing roles in the UK who offer more favourable terms of employment.”
Cllr Noeleen Reilly said she believed more could be done by hospital management across the Dublin region and said: “I am really very concerned at the level of staff shortages in Beaumont, Connolly and the Mater Hospital.
“This is putting patient care at risk and already we have seen an increase in the number of cancellations for surgery.
“These surgery cancellations are happening on a daily basis right across our broken health system and they are understandably having a devastating impact on long suffering patients and their families.”
She added: “Any effort to retain existing and recruit further nursing staff will only succeed if a believable financial commitment is made by government to expand health workforce numbers to the level needed to radically reshape the working environment in our health system.”

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