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A HSE manager was asked EIGHT TIMES whether hospitals are safe

Nursing union the INMO says patient care is being compromised because of the surge in numbers on trolleys.

Image: Shutterstock/antb

Updated at 2pm

AMID GROWING CONCERN over the overcrowding situation in Irish hospitals, the HSE’s Deputy National Director of Acute Hospitals appeared on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier to address the situation.

It followed confirmation this morning that nurses at Beaumont in Dublin — one of the busiest hospitals in the country — are planning a work-to-rule later this month in response to what are being described as ‘chronic’ overcrowding issues at the facility.

Meanwhile, the INMO said there were over 80 people on trolleys at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda this morning — more than 40 of whom are in the Emergency Department.

The nursing union called yesterday for all planned elective admissions to be cancelled at the country’s acute hospitals for at least two weeks.

563 people were recorded on trolleys yesterday.

The union said that level of overcrowding meant that in many cases, patient care was being compromised.

In her interview with Morning Ireland’s Cathal Mac Coille, Angela Fitzgerald said the HSE had asked for additional resources to deal with problems caused by delayed discharges — but wouldn’t say how much they’d asked for.

She was also asked a total of eight times to say whether the country’s acute hospitals were safe for patients.

Here’s how the conversation went….

Source: Shutterstock/antb

Cathal Mac Coille: 

Are all of these hospitals safe to go to, if you have an emergency?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think if you have an emergency… I think the first thing is that we have a GP system. I think if you have a concern, you should go through your GP

“I think if you have an emergency there is a triage system — urgent emergencies will be seen. I think what we are doing is seeking to stabilise the situation. If you look at yesterday — over the day, we halved the numbers.

“We know that when we hit these surges it doesn’t change overnight. You mentioned the UK — we know they’re in a similar situation. And what’s interesting about the UK is for the first time they’re also mentioning the delayed discharges issue…

Cathal Mac Coille: 

The INMO are saying that some of these hospitals are unsafe. For instance Drogheda. Are these hospitals safe or unsafe?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think what we know is overcrowding is not a good situation.

“We’re working directly with both the INMO and in relation to hospital management to alleviate the pressures. So the actions that are happening today — those 20 beds that become available — will immediately alleviate the situation…

Cathal Mac Coille: 

Are they safe?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think what we have to do is make sure that the overcrowding situation…

Cathal Mac Coille: 

Are they safe?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think the overcrowding situation is not an acceptable situation and I think we’ve made that clear.

Cathal Mac Coille: 

Are these hospitals safe? The overcrowding we’re hearing,. … I presume you have… I mean, the INMO are saying that in some of these cases the hospitals should go off-call.

Angela Fitzgerald: 

We have done that.

Source: Shutterstock/spotmatik

Cathal Mac Coille: 

Do you accept that assessment now? As far as you’re concerned, with the information you have now, are all of these hospitals safe for patients to enter the emergency department?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think in terms of urgent emergencies we have a good system of prioritising — a triage system at the front door.

“Urgent emergencies are always prioritised within the ED.

“I think we know that overcrowding is not acceptable and creates safety concerns. That’s why we’ve done the escalation.

“That’s why yesterday we managed to clear half the numbers waiting. What we also know is that we have to…

Cathal Mac Coille: 

I’m sorry to press you on this but this is a serious matter for patients or potential patients and I feel I have to ask the question one more time.Are all of these hospitals — which the INMO are saying in some cases are unsafe — in the HSE’s view, as of now with the information you have, are they safe?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think what we are saying Cathal is that the overcrowding situation cannot be resolved overnight.

“What we are working with hospitals is to create the safest environment we can possibly.

“That does involve putting beds up the wards on occasions but more importantly it involves all forms of escalation — including discharge of patients not just to long-term care, but also to home. But all of those measures are being invoked

“We are working with the hospitals on an hourly basis….

Cathal Mac Coille: 

You can’t say they’re safe?

Angela Fitzgerald: 

“I think what we can say is safety is the priority and I think what we’re doing is to make sure…

Cathal Mac Coille: 

You can’t say they’re safe.

Read: The man due to run a new task force on the emergency department crisis has quit

Read: Nurses at Beaumont Hospital are going on a work-to-rule 

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