Waterford hospital to close ten beds over nurse shortage

Nurses and midwives to be balloted on industrial action over staff shortages

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the closure of  ten inpatient beds at University Hospital Waterford ‘is indicative of the fact we are almost 4,000 nurses short in the service’.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the closure of ten inpatient beds at University Hospital Waterford ‘is indicative of the fact we are almost 4,000 nurses short in the service’. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

University Hospital Waterford is to close ten inpatient beds on a temporary basis from Monday due to a shortage of nurses.

In a statement, hospital management said the decision was taken due to “difficulties being experienced in filling current nurse staffing vacancies”.

It said the hospital, together with the South West Hospital Group, is continuing to “actively pursue all recruitment options” to address the current staffing difficulties.

“Pending restoration of staffing levels, University Hospital Waterford will seek to minimise any disruption to patient care and the matter is under ongoing daily review,” it added.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) held a press conference a number of weeks ago at which it said nurses feel “abused” by the State. They are to vote on industrial action if bed numbers and services are not reduced in line with available staffing levels.

The union also called for the “immediate acceleration” of pay and pension restoration following cuts during the economic crisis. The threat of industrial action does not however apply to this issue.

Speaking on Friday, IMNO general secretary Liam Doran said the closure of ten inpatient beds was the “correct decision”.

“It’s a management decision and a correct management decision based on the number of vacancies in the hospital,” he said. “They’re unable to fill them because nobody is taking up the posts.

“They have 26 official vacancies in the house, plus no local cover for annual leave, so the hospital is very very short staffed and they’ve been forced to close 10 beds to make sure the remaining beds are staffed somewhat safely.”

Mr Doran said it would not be the last time hospital beds are closed this winter due to staff shortages.

“This won’t be the last time we see closures this winter because most hospitals are increasingly short before we start any action to limit services to match available staffing levels,” he said.

“This is indicative of the fact we are almost 4,000 nurses short in the service. There is a crisis in terms of nursing shortages, which are growing - not diminishing - in the absence of definite measures by management and Government.”