UHL overcrowding impacting staff retention, says INMO

A recent unannounced inspection by Hiqa found the hospital's "overcrowded and understaffed Emergency Department posed a significant risk" to patients
UHL overcrowding impacting staff retention, says INMO

Muireann Duffy

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said the level of overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) is having a "significant impact on the retention of nurses" and "safety and safe care" at the hospital.

The comments follow the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority's (Hiqa) report on an unannounced inspection of UHL's Emergency Department (ED) which found there was "insufficient" nursing staff numbers.

The report added the staff shortages were "having an impact on the safe provision of care" and that the hospital's "overcrowded and understaffed Emergency Department posed a significant risk" to patients.

The INMO welcomed the report which "reflected their concerns on overcrowding in the hospital which has a significant impact on the retention of nurses in such unsafe workplaces despite the significant recruitment efforts of nurse managers".

"The report is a fair analysis of the situation our members are facing on the ground," the INMO's assistant director of industrial relations Mary Fogarty said.

"However, it needs to be noted that when things are this bad it becomes harder to keep nurses in their jobs, which makes it harder to ensure safe staffing numbers.

"The report shows that nursing staff are doing everything they can in a desperate situation, but that it’s not possible to keep patients safe in these conditions," she added.

"The report’s recommendations must be implemented urgently or the crisis in the midwest is only going to get worse."

Health committee

The report's findings have also prompted calls for representatives from the UL Hospitals Groups to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee to answer questions on the issues at UHL.

Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway has since written to the committee's chair, recommending that the hospital's management be invited to address the committee "at the earliest possibly opportunity".

"The Hiqa report raises some very serious concerns about patient safety at University Hospital Limerick," Mr Conway said.

"I hope we have swift acceptance of such an invite so we can urgently examine the concerns in the Hiqa report and receive an update from UL Hospitals Group on the plan to address them," he added.

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