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Overcrowding at Beaumont Hospital ‘inhumane’, with elderly woman left on chair all night

The north Dublin hospital has asked people to avoid attending its emergency department unless absolutely necessary.

Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland - File image

Updated 7.26pm

THE INMO INDUSTRIAL Relations Officer has described the level of overcrowding in Beaumont Hospital as inhumane.

Speaking to RTÉ news this evening, Tony Fitzpatrick said: The reality is the situation in this hospital and in many other hospitals remains as bad as it’s always been”.

He said there is a significant problem with delayed discharges in the hospital, which is further adding to overcrowding.

There are currently 75 patients in the department, 33 of whom are awaiting an in-patient bed.  This number is set to rise further as the evening progresses. The union has called for the hospital to go off call this evening.

Beaumont said it had treated its highest number of people in 18 months on Monday, and asked GPs not to send on patients unless absolutely necessary.

Speaking to RTÉ reporter Aisling Kenny last night, 86-year-old Brida, who has a collapsed lung, said she had been waiting on a chair overnight at the hospital.

“It’s bad and my God I thought with reading the paper and all of this that things would have improved,” she said in the report, which was broadcast on Morning Ireland today.

It’s worse.

She said she had been told there were “50 people waiting” for a bed ahead of her.

Another woman, who suffers from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma said she had been on a chair waiting for a bed for over 24 hours.

A man with a fractured foot had also been waiting for 24 hours. Sitting in a wheelchair, he said his foot, which was swollen and discoloured, was “just throbbing”.

“I was only told there a few hours ago they were going to keep me in because they’re not happy with where the break is – and I have to wait in the chair in the corridor still for a bed.

I’m after asking again because it’s not feasible for me to be sitting in a wheelchair because of the way I am.

He said he was partially paralysed from a previous accident “so one ailment exacerbates the other one”.

‘One of the busiest’ 

In a statement this morning, Beaumont said it “acknowledges and regrets the difficult conditions experienced by patients at its emergency department”.

The hospital has one of the busiest EDs in Ireland, providing services to over 50,000 patients each year.

It said numbers at the department had soared since 28 December.

In line with the age profile of the area served by the hospital where one in three residents are aged over 65 and living alone, Beaumont is also seeing a high volume of older people attending ED. This includes a growing number of patients presenting with respiratory and influenza symptoms.

The hospital has announced three measures to reduce pressure, namely:

  • Asking patients who may be considering coming to the ED to contact their GP instead and, if possible, to avoid or delay their visit to the department.
  • Asking GPs not to send patients to Beaumont ED unless absolutely necessary.
  • Encouraging those who can to access private health facilities for the treatment of minor injuries and illnesses.

It says a number of measures have been taken to manage the situation, including cancelling non-urgent admissions and surgeries in order to free up additional beds.

“It is Beaumont Hospital’s practice to treat all patients with dignity and care. Staff endeavour to free as many beds as possible to meet demand each day.

“All inpatient beds with the exception of six which are closed due to nursing staff shortages, are fully open at present.

Beaumont Hospital is engaged in an active recruitment campaign. This includes advertising for nursing positions on an ongoing basis as well as offering support packages and working to retain graduates.

Strike

Nurses at Ireland’s 26 emergency departments confirmed last night they had rejected proposals from the Workplace Relations Commission that would have addressed overcrowding, staffing and patient safety.

A rolling strike action will take place tomorrow week – with two-hour stoppages scheduled at the country’s EDs.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Varadkar to nurses: Planned strike will compromise patient safety

Read: Hospital staff to vote on strike action over car parking charges

 

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