CRISIS ARISING FROM NURSE SHORTAGES IN CO LOUTH DEEPENS
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) there are currently 9 beds in Drogheda Cottage Hospital Transitional Care Unit and 9 newly refurbished beds in St Oliver Plunkett’s Hospital, Dundalk closed due to the refusal of the HSE to sanction the filling of vacant staff nurse posts.
The refusal of general management to approve the filling of these posts is in stark contrast to the continuing drive to create and fill general management posts in the region. The current reality is that Directors of Nursing have to await 8 layers of management to approve the filling of one nursing post. It is the view of the INMO that this is totally indefensible and, critically, compromising patient care.
In the past if a nurse retired, or resigned, the Director of Nursing for the facility would be the decision maker with regards to the filling of that vacancy.
In the meantime, patients are left without adequate nursing cover and now beds have been closed in Louth as we head into the busy winter months. The bed closures in Louth are having a direct impact on patients in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda as those on trolleys in the Emergency Department cannot get access to a bed and those in a bed, who are finished the acute phase of their care, cannot be discharged to step down or community facilities.
The ability of the reduced numbers of nurses working in the community, to provide adequate care, is further compromised by the fact that some of the Health Centres in which they work are dilapidated, inadequate and not appropriate for nurses to meet with their patients/clients. The IT infrastructure, available to nurses in the frontline, is also wholly inadequate resulting in delays in accessing patient information and forwarding referrals to other parts of the system.
Additionally, a significant amount of PHN and Community RGNs’ time is taken up completing assessments for patients to obtain home help only for their recommendation to be rejected at administration level. This is causing severe frustration for the nurses and their patients and is totally unacceptable as it amounts to interference with the clinical judgement of the registered nurse.
Central to all of this is the on-going attempt by the HSE to establish management structures, in Louth and across the country, which are cumbersome, bureaucratic and do not involve nurses in any operational managerial role. The INMO is opposing this, not only in Louth, but also nationwide, as we need flattened management structures and empowered frontline professionals.
Speaking this evening INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Tony Fitzpatrick said:
“The INMO demands that Directors of Nursing/Public Health Nursing be immediately allowed to fill all frontline nursing posts which are vacant at this time. Our members in Co Louth also call for a comprehensive review of the layered management bureaucracy which has been established and which is adding nothing to quality of care and the ability of frontline staff to respond to need. The empowerment of Directors of Nuring, to allow them do their job, will allow for the beds to be reopened for the critical winter months.”