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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 16 April, 2014

Nurse staffing levels “critical”, says INMO

The organisation said that nursing staffing levels in Ireland are at “critically low levels” compared to the UK.

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NURSE STAFFING LEVELS in Ireland are “critical” compared to the UK, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said today.

It has published comparative figures on staffing levels in Ireland compared to their UK counterparts, and say they have also drawn together international evidence that confirms a reduction in nurse staffing levels “negatively affects patient care in terms of higher mortality rates, increased adverse events such as patient falls, medication and transfusion errors, and delays in treatment.”

It also found that inadequate staffing is associated with longer lengths of stay and increased rates of readmission, both of which lead to increased healthcare costs. It says that this research “showed that poor staffing levels increase the risk of burnout amongst nurses which in turn increases the risk of poorer patient care”.

The figures show that in elderly care wards in Ireland, there were 121.87 less total care hours available on the ward per week, compared to the UK. On medical wards, there was 131.25 less hours per week in comparison, while in surgical wards there was a deficit of 225 total care hours compared to the UK.

Admissions and assessment units had two less staff on at every part of the day compared to their equivalent in the UK.

Standards

Speaking today, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said that all of this evidence, coupled with the inquiry into deaths at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which found that the period investigated was characterised by cuts in staff and changes in skills ratios, “cannot be left unchallenged”.

He said:

Our members, without exception, are under unbearable pressure striving to provide safe practice and safe care to their patients/clients.
It is now time for the Minister for Health and the Government to take stock, look at the evidence which confirms our staffing levels are unacceptably low and to acknowledge that where there are poor staffing levels, patients suffer. They must, once and for all, lift the recruitment ban on frontline staff and put the ‘health’ back into the health service.

Doran said that the INMO will now be seeking an early meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Health to present to them the results of this comparative study, together with the international research findings of the value of a registered nurse.

It will call upon them to initiate a process leading to safe nurse patient ratios in all areas of the Irish health care system.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Fianna Fáil Social Protection Spokesperson Willie O’Dea raised the report, and asked the Tánaiste if he was going to organise risk assessments for these staffing levels.

Read: Irish nurses and midwives to march against health cuts>

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