Nurses warn of winter 'twindemic' if overcrowding in hospitals is not addressed

The INMO said that the number of patients without a bed last month was up 52% on the previous year.

NURSES ARE DREADING the prospect of a “twindemic” of flu and Covid-19 amid severe overcrowding in Irish hospitals, their union has said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said today that more than 9,191 patients went without a bed during July – a 52% increase on July 2021.

University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway were the most overcrowded in the country last month.

INMO Director of Professional Services Tony Fitzpatrick said in a statement that Ireland is in “for a very bleak winter” if this issue is not tackled.

“The level of hospital overcrowding we have seen throughout this summer has been a cause of serious concern. Since the beginning of May we have seen 27,832 patients without a bed in Irish hospitals including 9,191 in July.

The fact that 95 children under the age of sixteen have been without hospital beds in July should absolutely not be tolerated.

“Unless we see a hospital-by-hospital plan to tackle overcrowding, we are in for a very bleak winter in Irish hospitals which will see nurses and patients in extremely unsafe circumstances,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We need to heed the warnings from our colleagues in Australia when it comes to mitigating the impact of both flu and Covid in Irish hospitals over the coming months. We cannot afford to have a Covid and flu ‘twindemic’ in Irish hospitals this winter.

“Vaccinations for both COVID and flu should be offered to healthcare workers as soon as possible.”

Covid-19 testing for the general public is set to be stood down this autumn, after the Government accepted advice from the Interim Chief Medical Officer.

Fitzpatrick added: “Nurses and other healthcare staff cannot be expected to sustain this type of pressure right into the winter. If the Government and HSE are serious about retaining those who already work in the health service, meaningful action must be taken to ensure safe care conditions for both patients and staff. No nurse wants to have to care for patients in sub-optimal conditions.”

The number of patients without a bed in the country’s most overcrowded hospitals last month, according to INMO figures, is as follows:

  • University Hospital Limerick: 1,268 patients
  • Cork University Hospital: 1,000 patients
  • University Hospital Galway: 998 patients
  • St. Vincent’s University Hospital: 692 patients

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