THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has strongly rejected claims that staffing levels at St Finbarr’s Hospital are safe as it calls for meeting to resolve “hazardous” conditions at the hospital.
According to the INMO, a directive issued to the hospital in recent weeks by the HSE Southern Region has forced management to cut agency staff, resulting in a loss of eight nurses.
However, the HSE state there has been no reduction in staffing numbers when compared to 2016 and savings have been made instead by replacing agency staff with directly employed staff.
The INMO strongly refute this statement, describing the current staff levels at St Finbarr’s as “hazardous” and warning that patient care is suffering as a result. Nurses have been compelled to speak up for the elderly and the frail patients of Cork, according to INMO industrial relations officer for the region Mary Rose Carroll.
“The nurses on the ground can’t catch a breath, they are trying to do the best they can,” she said. “The nursing staff are currently overstretched, which is affecting medicine and hygiene in the hospital.
“The nurses are proud of their work there but they cannot keep going the way staffing levels are,” she added.
According to the INMO, more than 11 nurses are needed to maintain safe care and dignity for residents at the hospital.
“The problem is that St Finbarr’s only offers temporary positions. Why would anyone apply for a temporary position when they can go across the city and get a permanent one? But there was a number of agency nurses in St Finbarr’s who knew the patients and knew the care they required and that was all just wiped off the book, all to do with the budget and cutting costs.
“And as a result, patient care is being compromised,” Ms Carroll added.
The INMO is now calling for agency cover to be restored as well as all current vacancies to be filled. A meeting with the HSE was sought two weeks ago but a date has yet to be set, according to Ms Carroll.
“We want to sit down at the meeting we sought to discuss issues with St Finbarr’s or we will consider escalating our response further.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the HSE said: “We are completely satisfied that care at St Finbarr’s continues to be safe, caring, compassionate and of a high standard.
“We have full confidence that the current management arrangement are appropriate and allow for the high standard of care we provide at all long stay facilities in Cork and Kerry.”