Some hospital chiefs lethargic about solving overcrowding, says INMO

Minister for Health urged to challenge ‘less-than-engaged’ hospital managers

President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Claire Mahon says some hospital managers remain less than engaged and lethargic about trying to deal with overcrowding in their emergency departments. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Claire Mahon says some hospital managers remain less than engaged and lethargic about trying to deal with overcrowding in their emergency departments. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Some hospital managers remain less than engaged and lethargic about trying to deal with overcrowding in their emergency departments, the president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has stated.

In an address to the union’s annual conference in Killarney, Claire Mahon said some hospital management personnel continued to adopt an approach which effectively left it to somebody else to solve the problem.

“This, quite bluntly, is not good enough and cannot be tolerated and will be constantly challenged by the INMO but must also be challenged by the Minister for Health.”

Ms Mahon said the INMO will never support a policy of moving extra beds or trolleys onto in-patient hospital wards - known as the full capacity protocol - to tackle overcrowding in emergency departments.

“Beds and trolleys up on wards only allow management to avoid their obligations to deal with the core problem and, most definitely, compromises the care of all in-patients in those overcrowded wards, which are, I should add, already understaffed.”

She said the recent agreement between the INMO and health service management aimed at tackling emergency department overcrowding was not a substitute for the additional 1,500 acute beds required across the country and the extra 2,000 long-term /traditional care beds needed nationwide to deal with growing demands from an ageing population.

“We will continue to work the current agreement, with all parties, demanding the additional staffing stipulated, the presence of senior clinical decision makers at all times, including weekends and greater resources for the social and primary care areas, to allow for admission avoidance and prompt discharge.”

Ms Mahon told the conference that nurses will in effect receive the equivalent of a 2 per cent increase in salary from July - backed dated to January - as part of a recent deal which will see them take over a number of tasks previously carried out by doctors.

Under the agreement nurses and midwives will undertake intravenous cannulation, emergency phlemotomy and intravenous drug administration, while discharge of patients will also be delegated to them.

In return premium payments of time and one sixth for working between 6.00 pm and 8.00pm, which was cut under the terms of the former Haddington Road agreement, will be fully restored.

However Ms Mahon said nurses would only undertake these additional tasks when the required levels of additional staffing were in place.

“Our commitment to do so , when staffing allows, is all that is required under the agreement to trigger the re-commencement of the unsocial hours payment worth 2 per cent to salary backdated to January 1st this year.”

Ms Mahon said an additional 450 midwives were required in the next four years to achieve the staffing ration of one midwife per 29.5 births as set out in the Government’s recent national maternity strategy.

She said the INMO would be calling on the new government to initiate a national debate on health to set out a policy to apply over the next 25 years.

“We are calling for a universal healthcare service, funded by progressive taxation, which is efficient, effective and which treats everyone equally with access being determined by need and not ability to pay.”