The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed the HSE’s admission after a meeting at the Workplace Relations Commission, where they met with HSE and Department of Health officials.
The HSE also admitted that they have been unable to fill 169 nursing posts in emergency departments across Ireland, for which they have funding.
On top of this, an additional 57 nurses would be required to provide minimum levels of safe care, according to recognised staffing ratios. Yet extra funding for the posts is not available.
During the meeting, officials also revealed that they have not decided how to ensure safe staffing in emergency departments this winter, reduce services elsewhere to increase emergency department resources and guarantee replacements for nurses who are on maternity leave.
INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork, Liam Conway, told the Evening Echo last week that there are up to 50 vacancies in CUH alone.
He added that, unless the government addressed nurses and midwives pay scale, industrial action would have to be considered.
The INMO revealed on Friday that nurses and midwives will take part in a lunchtime protest tomorrow at Cork University Hospital. It is one of several demonstrations planned nationwide this week.
Speaking after the meeting, an emergency department nurse and INMO member said the emergency departments, already overcrowded during the summer, will become “warzones” this winter.
INMO Director of Industrial Relations, Tony Fitzpatrick, said: “Despite record overcrowding this summer, the HSE still don’t have a plan to deal with winter.
“Community health services are being cut, so emergency departments will face a tsunami of desperate patients with nowhere else to go. The recruitment and retention crisis is deepening, with hundreds of nursing vacancies in hospitals across Ireland,” he added.“Nurses and midwives will be protesting at some of the worst-affected hospitals in the coming weeks. We cannot go on like this.“The HSE has to be honest with the public.”