Press Release, Wednesday, May 24, 2017
INMO Members Express Serious Concerns About Patient Safety Ahead Of Next Week’S Proposed Move To New ED At University Hospital, Limerick
- Up to 24 patients to be placed on extra trolleys and recliner chairs in new ED
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), working in the Emergency Department at the University Hospital Limerick, have written to HSE management outlining critical patient safety issues which must be addressed, by the HSE, in advance of opening the new ED.
Nurses have looked forward, for years, to the day when they can work, and care for patients, in a top class environment. They welcome the new facility, but, having engaged with the HSE in advance of the opening, they remain deeply concerned at the following:
• Final management proposals, received by the INMO on Monday evening May 22, propose to place a minimum of 24 admitted patients on trolleys and recliner chairs in the new Emergency Department. Furthermore the plans seek to embed, forever, the unacceptable concept of admitted patients on trolleys in this Emergency Department.
This is not progress for patients or nursing staff and is a retrograde approach as the opportunity for the new facility to reach its full potential cannot be realised. The INMO has proposed to management that the old Emergency Department should be utilised, as a separate area for admitted patients, but this has been rejected.
• While the recruitment of nursing staff is ongoing, and this is acknowledged, our members continue to have serious concerns, regarding staffing/skill mix, arising from the following:
- the numbers of newly qualified staff rostered to work in the new unit;
- the numbers of newly qualified nursing staff recently arrived in Ireland still adapting to the new clinical environment; and
- the lack of staff, with an ED specialist qualification, available to work in the new unit;
in the context of this unit being the second busiest ED in the country.
This situation is further compounded when it is noted that this department has lost nine highly skilled/experienced ED nurses, who held over 140 years of nursing experience between them, in the last number of months.
Against this background the proposed nursing skill mix is unsafe as newly qualified nurses are being tasked with senior nursing roles in emergency care. This requires management to fast track clinical skills facilitators for the new Emergency Department so as to ensure all nurses are supported as they increase their competence and experience in this hugely challenging clinical environment.
• The HSE has undertaken only 1 dry run of the new facility, on last Wednesday, when a significant number of serious unsafe processes were identified. So far no feedback on same has been received by nurses.
This is a live service, it cannot be shut down, and consequently the transition must be seamless.
This requires at least 3/4 further dry runs to correct all faults identified.
Speaking this morning, INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Mary Fogarty said:
“Nurses are anxious to move to the state of the art facility as they have endured almost 10 years of a workplace which is unfit for purpose with an unacceptable level of overcrowding. Nursing representatives engaged with the HSE, since last September, and secured agreement on issues such as additional staff numbers, rosters, and allocation of staff to 6 independent locations, etc.
However, critical issues, raised repeatedly by the INMO, remain unresolved. Nurses refer to their Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland Code of Professional Conduct & Ethics which requires them to report to management any safety concerns and/or issues which negatively impact on their ability to practice safely. Patients and nurses have waited a long time for this new facility, it is incumbent, therefore, on the HSE to address and resolve all outstanding issues in advance of opening.”