Hospital and ED overcrowding increases and beds continue to close, all while more senior managers are recruited. Ann Keating reports
A headline in the Irish Independent (November 28) was €3m to try to reduce trolley queues in A&E. “The aim is to transfer some of the 850 patients who are in acute hospital beds, who no longer need to be there, said Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch… However, nurses warned that the A&E overcrowding was getting worse and said the numbers of patients on hospital trolleys in October rose by 34% compared to the same month last year. The HSE service plan will not address this kind of overcrowding. While the HSE plans to employ more nurses directly rather than hire them through an agency it would not lead to a rise in numbers, said Liam Doran of the INMO. He said that the background to the plan, which cannot be ignored, was that there were 7,000 people on trolleys during the month of October. There were more than 2,000 acute and continuing care beds closed across the country and there were 5,000 fewer nurses working in the system, compared to 2009.
“This service plan should ensure the health service does not suffer any further contraction. However, the plan, and the budget allocated, failed to recognise, let alone address, the critical state that many areas of our health service were now in, leading to the compromising of patient care on a daily basis. The INMO believes that in order to address six years of unmanaged contraction of our health service, the government must acknowledge, without further delay, the need for emergency funding. This must be targeted at overcrowded emergency departments, the opening of closed beds and the further enhancement of community nursing and support structures. Maintaining existing services, after a year in which the HSE’s own internal reports said the health system was doing less with less, was simply not good enough.”
Increase in number of senior managers
The Irish Sun (November 27) covered a press release issued by the INMO under the heading 10% more bureaucrats, 34% extra on trolleys. “Official figures released yesterday showed that the number of senior managers in HSE hospitals had increased by more than ten per cent since 2011. The data, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, also revealed that, at the same time as the extra 30 bureaucrats were being hired, the number of staff nurses on the payroll fell by 744 – down 3%.
“Demanding a review of top level structures in the HSE, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warned that the figures would ‘further undermine the morale of frontline staff’.
“Union chief Liam Doran directly linked nursing cuts to the spiralling number of hospital patients on trolleys and in overcrowded wards – 6,977 last month, up 34% on a year ago.” He said: “While we have increased the number of senior managers, the number of people on trolleys has increased, waiting lists have increased and the number of day-care procedures has decreased. This is a direct result of cutting frontline services. Therefore these additional senior managers have not resulted in improved services for patients.”
37-hour working week
An article in the Industrial Relations News (November 27) stated – Nurses to seek roll back on HRA concession on working hours. “The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will be seeking a reversion to the 37-hour week that existed prior to the Haddington Road Agreement in ‘pay restoration’ talks that are set to be held between the public service unions and the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform in 2015. INMO director of industrial relations, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, told IRN that members have made it clear that they want to get back to where they were in regard to pay and hours before the HRA. The INMO never made a secret of the fact that it regarded the one and half hour increase in the working week agreed under the HRA as “a temporary measure”, she said.
“Ms Ni Sheaghdha said that the union would consult with branches over the coming months to agree a strategy in the talks. She added that they will also consult with the Public Services Committee of the ICTU in advance. However, she said that while Public Expenditure & Reform Minister, Brendan Howlin, had indicated that he intends discussing pay with the unions next year, there has been no formal invitation as yet and no union has lodged an official claim.”
The Dun Laoghaire Gazette (November 27) covered the NMBI protest under a headline – Nurses and midwives take to street over 50% fee rise – Registration Board cites legal bills for hike in levy. “About 2,000 nurses and midwives participated in a march in Blackrock recently opposing a 50% increase in registration fees from January 2015.” Liam Doran said: “We pay €100 of a fee but we’re not going to pay €150 to a Board that does not enjoy the confidence of INMO because they haven’t supported them… the average nurse and midwife feels that the fee is simply a compulsory charge used to prosecute them in the event that they might have done wrong. There is no empathy between the professionals and the board at the moment and the attempt to increase the fee is just a step too far, and is reflected in 2,000 people on the street outside the board offices.”
Ann Keating is the INMO media relations officer, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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