The INMO has called for an urgent inspection of Sligo University Hospital by the Health and Safety Authority in response to increased overcrowding and safety issues.
In a letter to the HSA the union stated that a high level of patient attendance at the hospital, coupled with delays in discharging patients, were leading to health and safety risks to hospital staff.
While noting that the overcrowding problem extends throughout the hospital, the INMO has stated that safety issues are particularly severe in the Emergency Department, with Sligo University Hospital seeing extraordinarily high levels of overcrowding this year, and 5,901 patients having been treated on trolleys since January.
The INMO said that due to the large numbers of patients being treated in corridors on trolleys and chairs, staff were concerned about specific safety issues including the ability to safely evacuate in the event of a fire, higher risk of assaults on staff, a very high risk of infection transmission, and increased risk of injury due to severely reduced space in which to work and move between patients.
The INMO also noted that the increased workload and pressures on staff was leading to stress and increasing risk of trauma and burnout, with staff regularly unable to take appropriate breaks during their shifts due to staffing and workload issues.
INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Sligo, Neal Donohue said
“These safety issues extend throughout the hospital, but the conditions in the Emergency Department are so concerning we have no choice but to call for an urgent inspection.
“It’s simply not acceptable for staff to be at this much risk inside a hospital, and it’s beyond demoralizing for our members when their basic safety needs are not being met.
“We need to be making nursing and midwifery more attractive, but at the moment we’re not meeting minimum standards in terms of working conditions, and we need to consider how this affects future staffing as well as the daily risks to patients and our members.
“We can’t expect people to work under these conditions indefinitely and when staff leave the area or leave nursing because the pressure is too much, we’re going to see long-term effects in health services across the region.”