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Nurses’ union concerned at A&E take-up of Ennis day beds

BETWEEN 10 and 12 beds earmarked for elective day surgery at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Ennis have been taken over by accident and emergency in-patients, a nursing union claimed this week.
Concern about the lack of acute beds in the region to cope with the seasonal surgery in winter illness has been expressed by the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO).
The number of acute in-patient beds at the Ennis hospital has been reduced to just 55 and the union is now concerned that the potential for increased diagnostic procedures will be hampered if day beds are regularly used by A&E patients.
As nurses in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick continue their work-to-rule over alleged overcrowding, for the last three weeks, there has been renewed concern about the lack of additional resources provided to cope with the lack of night time casualty cover in Nenagh and Ennis hospitals.
The INMO noted the impact of overcrowding in Limerick hospital and its effect on other hospitals in the region.
INMO representative, Mary Fogarty confirmed the union had a productive meeting with the HSE recently where it put forward a number of proposals to try and resolve this issue.
It was agreed that the HSE would revert back to the unions on February 17 with a plan for implementing a number of proposals. She said that bureaucracy surrounding the implementation of the Fair Deal at national level is delaying the discharge of a number of patients into private nursing homes.
However, she claimed that the biggest issue is the alleged delay in the discharge of patients from acute hospitals in the region to other step-down facilities.
She proposed that a system had to be introduced to prioritise trauma patients when it came to getting a bed ahead of medical patients who were not as ill. She claimed the Teamwork Report identified a number of improvements and that investment in new facilities should have been carried out before 24-hour accident and emergency services were removed from Ennis and Nenagh, which didn’t happen.
The HSE has previously stated that new arrangements introduced by management to deal with the surge in admissions at Limerick hospital have been working well and resulted in a 54% reduction in the number of patients waiting unnecessarily in the emergency department before they get to an in-patient bed.
The HSE pointed out that management at the hospital are committed to working with all stakeholders, including the various unions, to address the inefficient practices, many of which have been identified, giving rise to a situation where each day, about 44 beds are occupied by patients who should be discharged. The authority hadn’t responded to the INMO’s latest claims at the time of going to press.

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