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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 23 October 2021

Varadkar won't be taking up nurses' challenge - but he'll meet them in September

The new Health Minister was asked to work a 12-hour shift in an Emergency Department.

Image: Sam Boal

Updated 4.22pm 

HEALTH MINISTER LEO Varadkar was offered the chance to work a 12-hour shift in an Emergency Department – but he won’t be taking it.

He was invited by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish Mirror reported yesterday.

The nurses, who are from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, are to hold a protest at lunchtime tomorrow.

They invited the new Health Minister to join them on a shift so they could show him what it is like working in the hospital.

When told about their invitation, Varakdar, who is a trained doctor but no longer practicing, said:

A spokesperson for the Department of Health also pointed out that there would be issues regarding the privacy and confidentiality of patients who may not want a politician in a clinical area while they are sick.

Varadkar said that he looks forward to visiting Our Lady of Lourdes in the future and added that he is due to meet with the INMO in September.


The nurses’ protest, which will take place at the gates of the hospital from 1pm – 2pm tomorrow, is being held to highlight “the severe overcrowding in the Emergency Department, staffing shortages throughout the hospital and inadequate acute and non-acute bed capacity”, the INMO.

The organisation said it is “extremely concerned” at the significant level of increase in overcrowding in Emergency Departments this year.

It said that patients continue to be cared for on three corridors off the ED at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, even though HIQA has recommended that no patient be cared for on a hospital corridor.

It also said that there are 92 whole-time equivalent nursing vacancies at this hospital, which is “creating severe problems for nurses”.

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Tony Fitzpatrick of the INMO said;

INMO members are gravely concerned for the well-being of patients who have to suffer the indignity of being nursed on a corridor for days at a time. The levels of overcrowding and staff shortages are impinging on their ability to provide safe quality care to patients. The exponential rise in overcrowding is resulting in intolerable conditions for patients and staff and cannot be allowed to continue.

He said that INMO members “are extremely worried, as we head into the autumn and winter months, that the situation will get worse unless management, the HSE and the political powers devise a strategic action plan to address the problem.”

The INMO has sought a meeting with the Assistant National Director of Acute Hospitals to agree an action plan, and is also in the process of meeting all the local TDs from Co Louth and Meath.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

First published 9.19am 

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