Nurses and midwives are protesting outside Mullingar Hospital today over what they describe as an excessive workload due to understaffing.
There are 50 unfilled nursing shifts at the Westmeath facility over the coming fortnight, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
It comes amid increasing attendances and 50 nursing vacancies in the hospital, including 29 permanent posts.
The INMO said it had engaged with the HSE “to try and find a resolution to this issue and are not satisfied with the response to safety concerns raised.”
As a result, INMO members of the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar will protest at its front gate this afternoon against the understaffing which they said is compromising patient care.
'Our members have had enough'
The INMO said the hospital is aiming to recruit for the vacant posts, but the shortfall will not be made up until the end of August at the earliest. Assistance from St Francis Private Hospital has also been sought.
INMO members are instead calling on hospital management to restrict services, close beds and divert scheduled care to private hospitals “in order to protect standards of care, patients, and staff.”
INMO assistant director of industrial relations, Albert Murphy, said: “It has been an incredibly challenging year and our members have had enough. They are facing increasing demands with too few staff. They are rightly concerned that patient care is being compromised.
“Hospital management need to urgently recruit the necessary staff, but they need to be realistic about the hospital’s current capacity. Work needs to be scaled back to ensure safe care.
We simply don’t have the staff to do the job safely
“That means closing beds in the short run and making decisions on which care has to be prioritised. Our members cannot be expected to work in environments which compromise their health and safety.”
A nurse in the hospital, speaking anonymously, told the INMO: “I have worked in this hospital for decades and have never seen things so bad. The waves of Covid were genuinely draining and we are now facing huge volumes of patients.
“We simply don’t have the staff to do the job safely. We’ve got a brilliant team in the hospital, but we’re at our wits’ end. We’re simply exhausted. I’m worried that patient care is being put at risk.
“Many of my colleagues are sadly now simply thinking of leaving the hospital, or even the profession.”