Health nurses 'forced to cut corners'
Overstretched public health nurses have admitted they are short-changing vulnerable people in the community because of under-staffing and huge workload demands.
A new report found the nurses, who work outside hospitals across wide areas, are forced to prioritise patients who need injections and dressings at the expense of giving time to health promotion such as support of mothers who want to breastfeed.
The report, carried out by the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Sciences in UCD, said that while the nurses gave time to child protection issues, other youngsters were missing out on important checks which could pick up developmental problems early on.
"There was a high degree of missed care where caseloads included disadvantaged groups such as asylum seekers, the homeless, migrants and traveller population," said lead author Dr Amanda Phelan.
The report, launched by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said older people were among those losing out on advice on keeping well and managing ongoing illnesses.
This includes advice on preventing falls, how to manage medication and reducing risks of depression.
This kind of missed care could have an individual cost of more than €18,000 as a result of the knock-on effects for the older person.
Some nurses have no internet access and, due to a lack of administrative staff, are struggling to keep up with writing case notes.
Others complain of burnout because they have to cover for colleagues.