The nursing union wants elective care to be curtailed due to overcrowding and staff exhaustion

A nurses union wants the HSE to limit elective care until Easter amid reports of hospital overcrowding and staff exhaustion.

Niversity Hospital Kerry today asked the public to avoid its A&E department if possible as the number of Covid-19 cases rises across the county.

In a statement released today, the hospital said it was “extremely busy” and asked people to consider alternative options such as visiting their GP or pharmacist.

“Kerry University Hospital [UHK] Demanding that members of the public only visit the emergency department when absolutely necessary, as the hospital is very busy and Covid-19 levels are rising across Kerry,” the statement said.

Visiting hours are also restricted and the hospital warned people they will experience “long days” if they have to visit A&E.

“IHK management is urging the public to consider alternatives such as primary care physicians or pharmacists as, unfortunately, they will experience lengthy emergency room delays,” the statement said.

“Visiting is currently restricted – however exceptions will be made for compassionate reasons via direct contact with the UHK Visitor Coordinator.”

This comes as Dublin’s Mater Hospital also last week called on the public to avoid its emergency department.

In a statement released on March 16, the hospital said the services were “due to a combination of a large number of people contracting Covid, a high number of emergency room presentations and a high level of staff absenteeism due to Covid- 19 are under extreme pressure”.

“Patients presenting to our emergency department with non-urgent medical conditions unfortunately have long wait times to be seen,” the statement said.

“Wherever possible, the Mater advises patients with non-emergency conditions to seek help from other parts of the health service such as minor injury units or their GP.”

The Mater urged any patient requiring “emergency hospital care” to come to the hospital to seek such care and not hesitate.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this causes the public and thank them for their understanding and cooperation,” the statement concluded.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization today called on the HSE to declare the current situation of overcrowding in our hospitals an emergency and to impose all the necessary assistance and restrictions to enable hospitals to cope.

INMO recommends keeping these electoral restrictions in force at least until Easter.

Today there were 570 bedless patients in Irish hospitals.

Commenting on today’s figures, INMO Secretary General Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Today’s ambulance numbers are worrying and disappointing but come as no surprise to Irish nurses and midwives. We are now in a situation where we have 570 patients on ambulances and 1,308 patients hospitalized with COVID.

“We have been sounding the alarm in this situation for far too long. We are not in an area where our healthcare service can handle 570 patients on ambulances combined with such a high number of patients in our hospitals with COVID.

“The government must now reconsider its decision to wear masks indoors and in crowded environments. There is a clear link between reduced transmission and mask wearing. The lifting of mask requirements in meeting spaces, especially where ventilation is poor, is clearly having a detrimental impact on our hospitals.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said nurses and midwives were burned out and exhausted.

“As an employer and as a service provider, the HSE has a duty to take the necessary steps to expand capacity. The current state of our healthcare system is extremely worrying. Patients, nurses, midwives, medical staff and broader hospital communities deserve better,” she said. The nursing union wants elective care to be curtailed due to overcrowding and staff exhaustion

Fry Electronics Team

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