INMO To Seek Assurances From Hse On Dedicated Beds For Emergency Admissions At Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick

Following a decision in August by the HSE in the Mid West region to further reduce the number of available acute beds at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick by 25, members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and SIPTU working in the Emergency Department have commenced a ballot for industrial action. This decision by the HSE only results in increasing numbers of admitted patients lying on trolleys in the Emergency Department while in-patient beds lie empty.

This response by our members at the hospital is due to sustained and constant hospital overcrowding which was exacerbated initially by the closure of 50 acute beds in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals in October 2009 following the reconfiguration of surgical services, and another 25 beds at St John’s Hospital Limerick city because of budget constraints. The recent closure of a further 25 beds at the MWRH is a step too far for the demands upon the Regional’s acute hospital services and for nurses to stand over patient safety within the hospital.

All reasonable efforts to address this unsustainable situation by the INMO at the MWRH have failed including referral of the safety of patient care to HIQA. We also got repeated reassurances from the HSE in 2009 when we raised our concerns about bed capacity in the region and were informed that reconfiguration would not require any additional beds and that hospital consultant work practices needed to, and would, change. HIQA have previously been notified of the situation by the INMO on behalf of nurses working in the hospital. To date there has been no visible improvement in the control of bed capacity as can be seen from the table below.

Speaking today, INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Mary Fogarty said:

The factual situation for our members throughout the hospital is that they find themselves, and the attending patients, in an unsafe situation with overcrowded wards, non recruitment of essential nurses to deliver appropriate nursing  care and to open closed beds, and increasing trolley figures in the Emergency Department. The INMO view is that all of this is primarily because the hospital was never appropriately equipped or prepared to deal with the reconfiguration of acute hospital services and that the subsequent bed reductions and budget cutbacks have made a bad situation not only worse, but clinically unsafe. The INMO will, in advance of issuing further notice of industrial action, seek assurances from the HSE, at a meeting scheduled for this afternoon, that all patients requiring admission via the Emergency Department are allocated a hospital bed on a priority basis and that all other services are adjusted to facilitate same. At the present time this is the only safe and viable option for delivery of emergency care to patients.”

Please see table below for details of the increasing numbers of patients on trolleys at the MWRH Limerick.

Total: 2,215

2011 (01) Jan (02) Feb (03) Mar (04) Apr (05) May (06) Jun (07) Jul (08) Aug
Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick 404 292 269 222 193 255 238 342

2010 Total: 2,193

2010 (01) Jan (02) Feb (03) Mar (04) Apr (05) May (06) Jun (07) Jul (08) Aug
Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick 453 389 237 186 233 138 371 186

2009 Total: 1,506

2009 (01) Jan (02) Feb (03) Mar (04) Apr (05) May (06) Jun (07) Jul (08) Aug
Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick 213 144 199 280 181 208 176 105

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