A top nursing officer has slammed the HSE’s “flawed” practice of placing extra beds in wards as 25 patients were waiting on trolleys at Sligo General Hospital last Wednesday.
Although that number had been reduced to 15 by yesterday,Industrial Officer with the Irish Nurses Medical Organisation Maura Hickey said
“The problem cannot be solved by placing extra beds on in-patient wards. This is a tried, flawed and failed practice of the past which should never be revisited”
And in a statement the INMO said the situation was now “causing untold human suffering for patients and making it increasinlgy difficult for members to practice safer care”.
The INMO said they were calling for closed beds to be re-opened, with appropriate nurse staffing levels, to deal with increasing demand at Sligo General Hospital.
The calls come as the HSE admitted it had closed a total of 63 beds in the hospital in the past three years as part of hospital cuts and it planned to open “extra beds in other wards”.
INMO members in Sligo General said they were seriously concerned regarding the health and safety of patients.
“Management have recently re-configured some services at the hospital which resulted in the closure of the 9 bed ENT/Ophthalmic ward with the staff being redeployed to already short staffed wards.
“The situation appears to have deteriorated as a result of this re-configuration which is reflected in the increased number of patients waiting admission.
“There are 63 beds closed in the hospital as part of budget cuts and the moratorium.
The INMO said they were looking for an urgent opening of closed beds with extra nursing staff to care for patients waiting for admission.
They also caled for the cancellation of all elective work in order that the existing patients can be cared for in a safe, timely manner.
In response The HSE said it had been experiencing a surge in emergency attendances and admissions over the past number of weeks at Sligo General Hospital that resulted in an “escalation plan”.
The plan included prioritizing patients in the Emergency Department and the Acute Assessment Unit for diagnostic tests and procedures,
The HSE said the plan also allows for the opening of additional beds in ward areas and multidisciplinary meetings in the hospital to review and manage the plan.
The HSE added that there was a 70% increase in respiratory admissions as compared with last year.
“Non urgent elective surgical procedures are being reviewed on a daily basis and postponed where appropriate.
The HSE said extra beds were opened in other wards in tandem with bed closures and work was ongoing with preparations to develop and open an additional five beds in another ward.