Nurses at Dublin’s Connolly Hospital are at “breaking point” with staff shortages leading to a lack of sleep and burnout.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is warning that patient care is being compromised at the hospital with 70 vacancies currently unfilled.
Nurses at the Blanchardstown hospital took part in a lunchtime protest this afternoon to highlight the crisis.
Lorraine, a nurse at the Hospital’s Acute Frailty unit, told Newstalk the situation is causing severe anxiety for staff.
“Nightmares, lack of sleep, thinking about work even when you are at home with your family – things that happened during the day you know, feeling like you didn’t give the best care,” she said.
“Things that you wanted to do for a patient that you just couldn’t do and feeling guilty about that – and that is everywhere. That is all of the nurses that I know.”
The INMO said it has engaged with hospital management to find a solution but is “not satisfied with the response to the safety concerns raised.”
It is calling on the hospital to restrict services and close down beds and wards until the nursing positions are filled - with scheduled care diverted to private hospitals in the meantime.
Therese, a nurse in the hospital’s Emergency Department told Newstalk the workload has left her team at breaking point.
“We are still doing all the other jobs that we normally do,” she said. “We are still answering phones because the clerical staff are short, so we end up doing part of their work as well.
“We are short of HCAs (Health Care Assistants), so we end up doing their work as well. It is just appalling people are at breaking point.”
INMO Industrial Relations Officer Maurice Sheehan said nurses have been through “a very challenging time” and are now heading into winter “with an increased workload, and COVID still circulating.”
He said hospital management must act urgently to keep patients and staff safe.
“From the outset of the pandemic, management at Connolly Hospital chose to curtail some of their least essential services,” he said. “They need to do so again.”
“Today’s protest sends a clear message to hospital management that staff are not willing to continue providing care in a manner where the health and safety of patients and staff is at risk.”
The INMO said a recent recruitment drive has had “some success”; however, many of the new recruits are not due to start until next year.
It wants services cut back until the new staff are in place.
Additional reporting from Michael Staines