The recent hospital trolley crisis in Galway has eased these past few weeks, with the numbers of people waiting having dropped substantially from their peak earlier in January.
Problems facing the hospital are far from over it seems however, after this past Monday the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) at the University Hospital Galway voted 100 per cent in favour of work-to-rule action due to excessive overcrowding, limited space, lack of beds and dangerously low staffing levels.
Anne Burke of the INMO spoke of the work-to-rule decision unequivocally: “The Emergency Department (ED) crisis has had a huge and negative impact on the timely delivery of Nursing care to patients in the ED.”
“The decision to engage in work-to-rule is the end of the line for INMO members who have, for years, raised serious concerns with Hospital Management regarding the gravity of the crisis in our Department. It is no longer sustainable to continue to work in these conditions.”
The work-to-rule action is due to go ahead on the 3 February, which would see the nurses on duty do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract. In effect, they will provide clinical care to patients but they will not get involved in administrative or clerical work as they do at present. This form of industrial action is seen as less disruptive than a strike.
The trolley crisis may have eased considerably, but waiting times are still clearly a concern. The nurses staged a lunch time protest in September after a 118 per cent increase in patients on trolleys over a 12 month period. This came to a head over Christmas after patients were left waiting in ambulances as there was no room or trolleys for them. This was part of a country wide crisis, but UHG in particular suffered badly from the crises.
The Emergency Department in Galway is a Tertiary Referral Centre serving a total population of 700,000 people from Donegal down to the Clare- Limerick border and as far east as Athlone.
The INMO have been backed by Derek Nolan, local Galway West TD who echoed some of the nurses concerns, saying “the current situation is simply unacceptable and steps must be taken to address these serious concerns immediately. This includes increased staffing and a plan of action to deal with overcrowding.”
Mr. Nolan went on to say that he will be “supporting the call by nurses for measures to ensure patient and staff safety – and dignity for all users of the Galway A&E.”
By John Brennan
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