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Nurses and midwives reporting exhaustion due to huge patient numbers, INMO to tell committee

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health is set to sit later today.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called on the government to improve the working conditions of nurses and midwives across the healthcare service, due to many facing burnout and exhaustion.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health is set to hear statements later today on how hospital overcrowding is impacting on nurses and midwives.

Speaking ahead of the Committee, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that there has been a “sharp” increase in the number of patients on trolleys this year compared to 2021.

“As of 8 March, 21.535 patients have been on trolleys so far this year, a sharp increase of over 170% compared to 2021,” said Ní Sheaghdha.

“Our nurses and midwives are under severe pressure; they are dealing with huge numbers of COVID and non-COVID patients presenting at emergency departments coupled with inadequate staffing levels.

“We are swiftly moving back to the bad old days of consistently seeing high numbers of patients on beds, yet we have come so used to these figures that hearing stories of patients waiting on trolleys for over 54 hours.”

Ní Sheaghdha said that the mental health of hospital staff around the country was being impacted, with surveys to assess the impact being carried out by the INMO.

According to the survey, at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, 66% of staff surveyed said that they had considered leaving their current job due to workplace stress during the last month.

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Elsewhere in Letterkenny University Hospital, 87% of respondents said that they always or often felt worn out by the end of the day.

Ní Sheaghdha also raised patient experience in her remarks, saying that there could be serious knock on impacts if patients remain on trolleys for longer than five hours.

We know that if a patient is on a trolley for more than five hours it can have a significant knock-on impact on their health and indeed their mortality. State agencies such as the Department of Health, HIQA and the HSE need to step up to their responsibilities they have here and take decisive action.

The INMO is set to call on the Government to reduce overall bed occupancy to 85% and that it commits to the funding of Sláintecare alongside a “zero tolerance” policy on overcrowding.

The organisation is also seeking stronger health and safety legislation to better protect nurses and midwives.

About the author:

Tadgh McNally

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