The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is calling for the first two weeks of March to be declared, and treated, as an emergency period in the Irish public health service. The Organisation is extremely concerned about the pressures that will be brought to bear on the service following on from the past five days of emergency weather conditions.
This concern arises from three main points:
1. This extended period of severe weather will have created a delay to discharges and a backlog of patients scheduled for admission for elective procedures;
2. INMO members, and many other front-line staff, have worked tirelessly and for extended periods, and will need rest periods. Rosters will have to be re-arranged to accommodate this and this, in turn, will reduce available staff for services in the short term; and,
3. INMO records show the trolley count for February 2018 was 19% higher than this time last year with 10,772 patients waiting on trolleys for an in-patient bed, indicating that hospitals were already overburdened before this adverse weather event.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “The next two weeks must be afforded emergency status. This means extraordinary measures should be put in place to focus on recovering from this adverse weather event, ensuring prioritisation of emergency care and this will require all non-urgent and routine cases to be cancelled during this period."
The INMO say they note and welcome the HSE statement that cancellations will be in place for all routine elective cases tomorrow, March 5. Unfortunately for the already overburdened health service this must be extended. In this crisis all measures to properly resource and staff the health service must be explored and the assistance of services in the private acute hospitals must also be sought.
Ms Ni Sheaghdha went on: “The dedication to duty of all health care staff, our nurse and midwifery members, medical and ambulance staff, and the examples of co-operative working between the civil defence, army and Gardaí in ensuring staff got to work and were able to deliver health care in very difficult circumstances, is a true example of selflessness and pride in the job they do every day. This is to be commended and the INMO now requires the employer to ensure practical appropriate plans are in place to cope with the aftermath of this crisis.’
The INMO will be meeting with the HSE early this week to discuss the planning in place for this adverse event and requiring agreed protocols for events of this nature in the future.