Upon the publication of today’s TrolleyWatch figures which show 287 patients on trolleys, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called on the HSE to publish and implement a Plan B for dealing with the capacity crisis that is escalating within our public acute hospital system.
The INMO has today called for all activity except urgent emergency care to be curtailed in our public hospital system.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“We are yet again seeing high numbers presenting to Emergency Departments across the country with 287 patients on trolleys today.
“From experience we know that if there are 287 patients for whom there is no bed in a hospital on December 30th, we know that figure will be tripled in early January. It is time now to scale back all activity within our public hospital system to emergency activity only.
“Our public health service is too small to try provide emergency care, COVID care and carry out elective treatments. Urgent elective work must be prioritised through the private hospital system.
“We know from the INMO TrolleyWatch figures that Regional Hospital Mullingar, Letterkenny University Hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital have been acting in crisis mode in the last 48 hours because of high numbers of people presenting to their respective emergency departments. We have seen incidents this week where ambulances have been rerouted from Wexford to Waterford because of the high levels of overcrowding in Wexford General Hospital. Unless an urgent and workable plan is produced by the HSE, we will continue to see incidents like this well into January and February.
“Incidents like this are inevitable due to a lack of a plan B from the HSE when it comes to hospital capacity. Every year between Christmas and New Year we see a spike in attendance at our Emergency Departments but now in the context of COVID, particularly with the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it is wholly irresponsible that we still do not have a Plan B in place for our scaling up capacity within our acute hospital system. We need private hospitals on the pitch so our health service can act as one at this extremely difficult time.
“The INMO have asked the HSE for a winter plan since mid-July, we are not satisfied there is a realistic plan in place. Every hospital is being asked to deal with issues as they arrive, rather than rely on long-term planning.
“We know that there are high levels of staff absences due to COVID related leave, anecdotally we are being told that many hospitals are having problems completing rotas. Our creaking health service is currently being held together by the goodwill of nurses and midwives who are cancelling annual leave and staying beyond their rostered time to ensure that wards are staffed.
“The HSE has a duty as an employer and as a service provider to take the necessary steps to scale up capacity. The current state of our health system is extremely concerning. The INMO has called for the HSE to have a realistic plan. We cannot allow a drift into this dangerous situation emerging across the country.”