INMO calls for emergency Taskforce meeting

Total trolley figures for May 2021 (3,898) were more than three times higher than those in May 2020 (1,176).

The INMO has written to the HSE calling for an emergency meeting of its Emergency Department (ED) Taskforce in order to tackle unsafe levels of hospital overcrowding.

Citing “hazardous conditions”, the nursing and midwifery union noted the risks to the health and safety of its members caused by the current pressure on emergency services.

The union has also called an emergency meeting of its own ED nurses section to agree the health and safety measures needed to protect members and patients.

Referring to its daily trolley count the INMO has reported that the numbers of admitted patients waiting for beds continues to increase despite continued risk of COVID transmission in hospitals, with some hospitals approaching or above pre-pandemic levels of overcrowding.

The union noted that over 22,000 patients have been treated on trolleys so far in 2021, with 2,800 patients have been treated on trolleys so far this month, double the number for the same period last year.

Emergency Department nurse and INMO president Karen McGowan said: “Not only is this a very unsafe situation, but our members simply don’t have the reserves to cope with this level of pressure anymore. This is the time for the HSE to start addressing the issue of burnout in its staff, not letting their working conditions get even worse.

“It is not acceptable for the HSE to rely on the goodwill and professionalism of nurses rather than develop a viable plan for safe staffing. Frontline workers have given 100% throughout the pandemic, and if conditions don’t improve it will be very difficult to retain nurses and midwives in the health service over the coming years.”

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha added: “This is not the time to be reckless with overcrowding and patient safety. The risk of COVID transmission in hospitals has not gone away, but we have seen overcrowding creep up steadily for over a year, without any meaningful action being taken.

“We are looking at highly transmissible variants, combined with a completely exhausted workforce. What we need from government and the HSE is a concrete plan to deal with this situation before it becomes even more dangerous.”