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Drogheda hospital "in meltdown"

There are 53 patients on trolleys in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital today, the INMO has said, adding the situation “is now causing untold human suffering for patients”.

OUR LADY OF Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is in “meltdown” due to the failure of the reconfiguration process in the North East.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Association said there is a record 53 patients on trolleys awaiting admission today and that some patients have spent five days on trolleys.

There are 23 clinically discharged patients on in-patient wards.

The INMO has said it is seeking a full independent review of the reconfiguration process in the North East which it says “has removed vital bed capacity and directed additional patient traffic to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the absence of adequate planning or provision of infrastructure or resources”.

The INMO said this situation “is now causing untold human suffering for patients”.

It has asked for a number of changes to take place, including:

  • Urgent provision of a fully staffed overflow area to care for admitted patients awaiting a hospital bed. The organisation has identified two areas within the hospital which could accommodate 16 trolleys
  • Using the vacant Medical 3 Ward in the Louth County Hospital, Dundalk to accommodate clinically discharged patients.  The INMO says this would free up 23 additional beds.

According to the organisation, the problem cannot be solved by placing extra beds on in-patient wards.

INMO Industrial Relations Officer Tony Fitzpatrick said:

842 patients have spent time on trolleys in the Emergency Department (ED) at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda in September 2011 compared to 331 in September 2010 – an increase of 154 per cent.
This situation will deteriorate even further in the coming months as the winter period is traditionally worse in Emergency Departments nationwide.

The INMO is calling on HIQA to immediately inspect the unsafe situation in the ED in Drogheda.

The HSE released a statement today that said “issues of overcrowding and waiting times in Emergency Departments, which are symptoms of broader hospital issues, are a source of concern”.

It said the longest delay a patient experiences in the ED is awaiting bed allocation.

It said the hospital began implementing a two pronged approach to manage chronic overcrowding in the ED on 7 September and that the Clinical Director and Group General Manager are fully engaged in managing scheduled care and unscheduled care under the direction of Dr Martin Connor of the Special Delivery Unit.

In addition to reviewing peaks and troughs in presentations, how to anticipate these peaks and respond to same the group are also contingency planning for the winter period to ensure senior decision makers are available at all times.

It said the Louth Meath Hospital Group is actively engaged in the implementation of the National Clinical Care Programmes which will see the Acute Medical Assessment Unit extending its opening hours.

The extension of this service requires the provision of additional staff or their redeployment and associated service curtailment.  In addition, this requires considerable changes in practice for physicians and their rotas which are being agreed and implemented.  This capacity will go some way to alleviating the high numbers of patients waiting for admission in the department.

The HSE said it also operates a three tier response based on the level of overcrowding which allows for the placement of additional beds in ward areas “which is called the full capacity protocol”.

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