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INMO members to protest outside Connolly Hospital today over continued unsafe working conditions

The protest is due to take place at the main entrance of the hospital at 1pm today.

Connolly Hospital.
Connolly Hospital.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

MEMBERS OF THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in Connolly Hospital will protest outside the hospital today to highlight excessive workloads and increasingly unsafe conditions.

The protest is set to take place at the main entrance of Connolly Hospital at 1pm this afternoon following warnings from nurses that staff are under increased pressure and patient care is being compromised.

The INMO says it has engaged with hospital management to find a resolution to this ongoing issue and are not satisfied with the response to the safety concerns raised.

Members are now calling on hospital management to restrict services, close beds and wards and divert scheduled care to private hospitals.

In a statement, the organisation said: “This action needs to be taken to protect standards of care, patients, and staff. While a recent recruitment initiative has had some success, many of the new recruits will not start until 2022.” 

INMO Industrial Relations Officer Maurice Sheehan said its nurses had been through “a very challenging time” and are now heading into winter with “an increased workload and Covid still circulating”.

“Hospital management need to act urgently to keep staff and patients safe. Otherwise, services at the hospital will need to be scaled back to ensure safety for all,” he said. 

“From the outset of the pandemic, management at Connolly Hospital chose to curtail some of their least essential services, they need to do so again.

“Today’s protest sends a clear message to hospital management that staff are not willing to continue providing care in a manner where the health and safety of patients and staff is at risk.”

Speaking anonymously, a nurse who has been working in the hospital all her life said she had “never seen anything like the low morale and exhaustion”.

“The waves of Covid were just so taxing and we are now facing huge volumes of patients coupled with staff shortages,” she said. 

“It’s just not right. We’ve such a brilliant team in the hospital but they are at rock bottom.

“I’m seeing my colleagues leaving or thinking about leaving and this tide has to be turned right now or more staff are going to leave the service.”

The INMO has also called for services within the intensive care unit (ICU) at St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) to be curtailed “until such a time that the unit is adequately staffed”.

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It came after The Journal broke the story that ICU nurses at SVUH had been forced to use a baby monitor to watch patients in two particular beds as there are not enough staff members to cover every ICU bed.

“We’ve 18 beds; we should have 21 nurses, at least, on every shift. We average about 14 to 16 nurses, so we’re at least five or six short. It’s just chaotic,” one nurse told The Journal, adding that it had been “relentless” since the start of the pandemic. 

In response to the story, the INMO noted: “On a daily basis the ICU in St Vincent’s University Hospital is running with 30% of its nursing shifts vacant. The hospital continues to operate 18 ICU beds despite pleas from nurses in the hospital to curtail services or divert patients to other hospitals.

“Nurses are often looking after twice as many patients as they should. They simply don’t have enough Nurses to do the job safely. They are constantly worried that patient care is being put at risk.”

The INMO’s Industrial Relations Officer Mary Rose Carroll said on Thursday: “The INMO have requested that services within the ICU are curtailed until such a time that the unit is adequately staffed.

“The hospital, in line with critical care standards, can divert patients to other ICUs in circumstances when there are inadequate and unsafe staffing levels within the unit.”

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Jane Moore

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