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Nurses to protest at Drogheda Hospital today

Nurses say overcrowding levels are dangerous.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 12.50pm

MEMBERS OF THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are to hold a lunchtime protest at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda today.

The nurses are protesting at what they say are dangerous levels of overcrowding at the hospital’s emergency department.

Tony Fitzpatrick of the INMO told TheJournal.ie that there has been a massive increase in those being treated on trolleys.

“The issue is that there has been a 55% increase in people waiting on trolleys. People are being looked after on trolleys for three or four days at a time.

HIQA did a report into Tallaght and recommended that no patients should be looked after on a trolley and that practice is unsafe and is still ongoing at Drogheda and negatively impacts on patient care.

Fitzpatrick says that there are 92 full-time vacancies at the hospital and that this is causing problems. However, the HSE disputes this figure, stating there are 67.6 permanent nursing vacancies at the hospital.

The Executive also said that it employs about 45 agency staff on a regular basis and hospital staff on an overtime basis in specialist areas such as paediatrics and midwifery to cover the vacancies.

Nurses challenged Health Minister Leo Varadkar to come and spend a shift with them, but he declined yesterday.

Fitzpatrick says that management are due to meet nurses this week, but that the INMO is prepared to step up their actions if things don’t improve.

The HSE confirmed to TheJournal.ie that a meeting between management and the union is to take place on Friday to advise on actions that have been taken since 31 July.

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In a statement, the HSE said, along with the Hospital Group, it is looking to fix the overcrowding problem by hiring more nurses and adding 18 beds in a Clinical Decision Unit within three months. They are also planning to train overseas nurses to allow for more private nursing home beds to open.

“The HSE has asked the Special Delivery Unit to continue to work closely with the Louth Meath Hospital Group to identify potential for further improving internal processes to ensure that patients are seen and treated appropriately,” the statement continued.

First published 6.30am; With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll

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