Irish hospitals are at breaking point and ‘can’t cope’, the General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said.
With a record number of COVID cases recorded in the run up to the New Year, Phil Ní Sheaghdha says the healthcare system is struggling:
“I think the bottom line is that we have to make sure that the work that is now facing us in wave five is manageable,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha told Newstalk.
“How do you do that? You do that by ensuring that all of the elective and non-urgent care is not also the responsibility of the hospital system that currently can’t cope.
“Because all that will do is lead to daily cancellations and crisis operations being the order of the day.
“We have to plan how we deal with this because, unfortunately, it’s here already and in every winter there is a predictable surge of activity amongst the public hospitals.
“Nurses and midwives will do their best but the bottom line is the planning in relation to the work that they have to do must be better and must take into account the extraordinary work that they have done for the last 22 months.”
'Increasingly difficult to sustain'
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that even before the pandemic began there were issues in Irish hospitals. However, COVID-19 has exacerbated the problems:
“The pressures now are just increasingly difficult to sustain. I suppose the issues are threefold.
“One, the number of nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers who themselves are getting infected.
“The volume of patients that they are dealing with and also the pressure that comes with going into a fifth wave of the pandemic and dealing with that level of activity on a constant basis over the last 22 months.
“So we now have a very exhausted workforce.”
HSE CEO Paul Reid has previously suggested that healthcare workers who are close contacts could be exempt from the five day self-isolation rule in order to ease staff shortages in hospitals. However, the proposal has been strongly opposed by unions.
Main image: Healthcare workers prepare for surgery. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie.