Nurses and midwives from across Cork have warned of further protests and a winter health crisis unless the HSE act and address staff and bed shortages in the sector.
More than 200 nurses and midwives took part in a lunchtime protest in Cork University Hospital yesterday, days after the HSE admitted that they do not have a plan to deal with extra patients this winter.
INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork, Liam Conway, told the Echo last week that there are up to 50 vacancies in CUH alone.
Speaking at yesterday’s protest, Mr Conway said:
“You can see here today that there is massive frustration among staff working here in Cork.
“They’re working constantly in an area that is understaffed and underfunded and this is seen nationwide across many hospitals,” he added.
More than 50 people were awaiting a hospital bed in CUH yesterday.
With winter approaching and no winter plan from the Health service, Mr Conway said the outlook is bleak.
“It’s going to be nothing short of a disaster.
“It’s already a crisis here today with so many people on trolleys,” he added.
“These are the people of Cork awaiting admission to a hospital which has no capacity.
“The people of Cork deserve better, our nurses and midwives here in Cork and across Ireland deserve better as well.
“They want to look after their patients, they put them first, but when they’re constantly left short, it’s a very high-risk environment.”
With a special delegate conference scheduled for September 26, Mr Conway warned that more protests are in the pipeline.
Staff nurse at CUH, Jean O’Connell highlighted said hospitals are at breaking point.
“We’re well into September, there’s no winter plan in place, there are vacancies across the nursing and midwifery sector throughout the hospitals,” she added.
“This is despite the great efforts of nursing management to recruit but as quick as they can recruit them, we’re losing them.
“When they see the conditions they’re working in, the huge caseload, the lack of resources and very sick patients, on the salaries they’re on, they leave.
“Nurses are looking overseas, seeing shorter hours, better pay and more resources and are heading abroad.
“We want to deliver quality care safely but it’s becoming more and more difficult to do that.
“We’re heading into winter and we’re very concerned, we’re dreading it.
“We’re at exploding point.
“We come into work to look after patients, to do our best but you could be looking after up to 17 patients,” revealed Ms O’Connell.
“You can’t do everything at the same time.
“If four patients need your attention, you’ve to decide who you’re going to first and that’s a constant battle,” she added.
“You can see the pain, distress and suffering on these patients faces and it’s devastating.” Cork TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (SF) said the lack of a winter plan from the HSE is difficult to fathom given the pressure hospitals have been under during the summer months.
“It’s obvious that the HSE is not taking this seriously and the Minister isn’t either.
“It looks as if the government is happy for nurses to remain in the position they’re in,” he added.
“It’s remiss of government not to address the pay issues, it’s bad for nurses, bad for hospitals and bad for the public.”