Drogheda hospital overcrowding sparks calls for major disaster plan

HSE moves to implement ‘full escalation protocol’

The Health Service Executive  said Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda had been “exceptionally” busy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Health Service Executive said Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda had been “exceptionally” busy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 01:00


The Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation yesterday called for a major disaster plan to be invoked at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda over concerns of severe overcrowding.

In a statement it said that 57 patients awaiting inpatient beds amounted to a crisis that required the hospital to go “off call” for at least 24 hours to deal with the demand as it would do in the event of a major incident.

The Health Service Executive conceded the hospital had been “exceptionally” busy but did not invoke a disaster scenario, instead moving to implement its “full escalation protocol”. “Staff are working with senior clinicians to utilise all resources effectively. This means that the most critically ill patients are prioritised for treatment and available beds,” it said.

Tony Fitzpatrick, industrial relations officer with the INMO, said the equivalent of two wards’ worth of patients were waiting for admission in the emergency department.

“The situation is extremely dangerous for patients and staff and the INMO is calling for the hospital to be taken off call immediately,” he said. He later added that while some action had been taken to alleviate the problem, he warned of potentially serious issues over the bank holiday weekend.