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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 25 March, 2019
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A&E wards could be shut over looming staff shortages, doctors warn

The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine says emergency wards are already stretched, and it’ll get worse in July…

Image: VILevi via Shutterstock

THE ASSOCIATION of doctors working in Ireland’s emergency wards has warned that staff shortages could become so severe this summer that wards may have to end their 24/7 services.

The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine says it believes current staffing deficits at emergency wards will become more pronounced when non-consultant doctors face their next rotation in July – with some junior doctors likely to emigrate for more attractive conditions abroad.

“It is likely that many departments will have difficulty fililng medical staff rosters, with inevitable cuts in services and more prolonged waits for patients,” the association said.

“It is likely that in Dublin, not all [emergency wards] will be able to remain open 24/7 with some operating only during limited hours.”

It added that in more rural areas, where closures were more likely to occur, the loss of the 24/7 service would put more patients at risk.

The association also criticised health minister James Reilly for failing to make any significant progress in ending overcrowding in emergency wards, which it said he had pledged to do by the end of 2012.

Records compiled daily by the Irish Nurses Organisation show there to be 236 patients on trolleys in the country’s emergency departments (EDs) today.

“Given the persistent levels of ED overcrowding, a situation that sees fewer EDs open for 24 hours will bring chaos to these EDs as they are forced to accommodate even more admitted inpatients while attempting to deal with their normal ED workload.

“The ability to provide good quality care for patients will be seriously compromised,” it said.

Previously: Emergency medics lash out as trolley numbers hit eight-month high

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Gavan Reilly

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