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Mullingar hospital nurses protest over understaffing and workload

The INMO says Mullingar is facing 50 unfilled nursing shifts over the coming fortnight.

Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

MEMBERS OF the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) members in the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar are protesting outside the hospital today against understaffing and an excessive workload – which they claim is compromising patient care. 

The INMO says Mullingar is facing 50 unfilled nursing shifts over the coming fortnight.

Attendances have increased, while there are currently 50 nursing vacancies (29 permanent) in the hospital, which the INMO says is putting staffing under pressure. 

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

“The hospital aim to recruit for the posts, but the shortfall will not be made up until the end of August at the earliest. Assistance from St. Francis Private Hospital has also been sought,” The INMO said in a statement. 

INMO members are calling on hospital management to restrict services, close beds and divert scheduled care to private hospitals in order to protect standards of care, patients, and staff. 

The nurses’ protest is taking place at the front gate of Mullingar Hospital from 1pm to 2pm.

“It has been an incredibly challenging year and our members have had enough. They are facing increasing demands with too few staff. They are rightly concerned that patient care is being compromised,” INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Albert Murphy said.

“Hospital management need to urgently recruit the necessary staff, but they need to be realistic about the hospital’s current capacity. Work needs to be scaled back to ensure safe care,” Murphy said.

“That means closing beds in the short run and making decisions on which care has to be prioritised. Our members cannot be expected to work in environments which compromise their health and safety.”

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In a statement to The Journal, Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) and Regional Hospital Mullingar said it “regrets today’s actions by hospital staff”, adding: “However, they also appreciate and understand their frustration given the ongoing pressure on all healthcare workers across the country since March 2020.”

It said the hospital’s Emergency Department “continues to be extremely busy with seriously ill patients presenting who have complex needs and require admittance”. 

“This is in line with activity being experienced in all Emergency Departments across the country,” it said. 

“In addition, the hospital is seeing a high number of patients who do not require urgent care or admission and in these instances there may be delays in for some patients being seen  in the department. The hospital continues to ask the public to please consider their care options,” the statement said.

Patients with a GP appointment should in the first instance attend their GP.  Alternatively, MiDoc is also available. Patients with minor injuries should consider attending the minor injury unit in Longford, where waiting times can be significantly less than in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

The statement added that recruitment at the hospital remains a priority for management with additional staff commencing over the coming weeks. 

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