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Nurses in overcrowded emergency department given stress management help

Galway University Hospital-West/North West Hospitals Group said that recruitment of more nurses is underway.

Image: Brian Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ON THE EVE of a planned protest against ‘severe overcrowding’ at a Galway hospital, Galway University Hospital-West/North West Hospitals Group has said that a nursing shortage is being addressed.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said yesterday that they plan to hold a lunchtime protest at the hospital entrance tomorrow to highlight overcrowding in the Emergency Department, as well as other issues.

Emergency Department issues

In a statement tonight, Galway University Hospital-West/North West Hospitals Group acknowledged “the difficulties that have been experienced by patients attending our Emergency Department (ED) and also the hard work of our staff in the Emergency Department and throughout the hospital”.

It continued:

Despite the ongoing efforts of staff and management, not all ED patients are afforded privacy and dignity.
When we have increased numbers of patients waiting for admission, we redeploy staff to the Emergency Department to look after this cohort of patients to ensure their safety is maintained and that patients are made as comfortable as possible, which may entail waiting on a trolley for admission.

It said that the management of patients and ensuring access to beds is “carried out intensely” throughout each day with regular communications to senior clinical management.

The build-up of patients in the ED awaiting admission is linked to the bed availability throughout the hospital: we have a commitment from community services that more beds will be sourced in the community so that long term care patients can be moved to more appropriate settings, resulting in more acute beds becoming available within the hospital.

Nursing shortage

The statement said that the nursing staff shortage in the ED is also being addressed.

The applications of 11 new nursing staff are being processed at the moment, while nine more job offers have been made.

The hospital also expects to begin recruitment of four new paediatric nurses shortly.

“Our Advanced Nurse Practitioner Service (for the treatment of minor injuries within the ED) is working well and is operating every day,” said the hospital.

By the end of September they will have seen and treated 6,500 patients since the service started in September 2012.

On Monday, INMO members were described as finishing shifts  “in a distressed state, experiencing burnout and frustration at the lack of action to this on-going problem”.

Today, the hospital said it has provided stress management support for ED nursing staff.

Local management have met the unions “on a weekly basis to address day-to-day concerns and requirements”.

Management met with the nursing union on Tuesday afternoon and there was a good exchange of views about their concerns.

The statement said the hospital recognises that the ED building itself needs to be updated and it is progressing an application for capital funding.

The West/North West Hospitals Group will shortly be appointing a specialist clinical lead in emergency medicine.

It said this person will be tasked with improving patient ED pathways across the Group.

On Monday, the INMO said the Emergency Department is “simply too small to deal with such a large geographical region”. The hospital covers a population of 70,000 people.

Read: Galway nurses to protest ‘severe overcrowding’ in Emergency Department>

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