THE HSE winter-plan funding will not relieve the “dangerous conditions” in emergency departments and medical and surgical wards in Cork hospitals and across Ireland, it has been claimed.
It was revealed last week that almost €1m has been allocated for a winter plan for Cork University Hospital (CUH), Mercy University Hospital (MUH), and University Hospital Kerry (UHK), as well as Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.
The allocation represents 15% of the acute winter-plan budget set out by the HSE and, while it will not open more acute hospital beds, the plan will see some hospitals, including those in Cork/Kerry, buying private community and acute beds to speed up discharges and free up beds at the hospitals.
The Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) has claimed that CUH sought additional funding for the ward and staff, as part of its winter plan, but that its request was denied by the HSE at national level.
Speaking to The Echo, INMO industrial relations officer for Cork, Liam Conway, said that CUH received only part of the funding that they had sought in the local winter plan.
He warned that the HSE’s national winter plan will not relieve the dangerous conditions in hospitals.
“Without significant additional beds and staffing, patients will continue to experience significant delays and wait time,” said Mr Conway.
“Patients will also continue to experience significant impacts of overcrowded emergency departments and masses of patients on trolleys.
“The conditions being experienced by patients and staff are intolerable,” he added.
“The response provided nationally by the HSE will not relieve the dangerous conditions being experienced in emergency departments and medical and surgical wards.
“Cork and Kerry hospitals remain severely understaffed and overcrowded,” Mr Conway said.
“This plan does not provide for additional staffing, nor does it remove the irrational stance by the HSE in terms of recruitment processes.”
Mr Conway said that it is difficult for hospitals to recruit frontline staff, due to the national approval process.
“Every single nursing and midwifery position must be approved by the head of the HSE Acute Division,” he said.
“This is simply impeding recruitment and has created a significant risk to patients by leaving areas significantly short.
“The HSE have stated this process would not affect frontline posts,” he added. “However, this is simply untrue and our members are clearly indicating that on-the-ground conditions and staffing are extremely difficult and that any winter surge in winter vomiting bugs or influenza will create an extremely dangerous environment for patients and staff,” Mr Conway said. “The HSE have been forewarned.”
Mr Conway said that significant elements of the Cork/Kerry winter plan that was submitted to the HSE have been ignored at national level.
“It is the people of Cork and Kerry that will suffer, from patients to workers,” he added. “The HSE’s and government’s response is simply not good enough. Additional resources must be provided to allow for additional bed capacity in Cork for this winter and in the medium- to long-term.”
The HSE was contacted for comment.