Wednesday 28 September 2016

Overcrowded top hospital can't fill more than 230 jobs

Ryan Nugent

Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30

Beaumont Hospital, which has been hard hit by overcrowding in its emergency department, has seen the number of permanent nursing vacancies almost double in the past three months. Stock image
Beaumont Hospital, which has been hard hit by overcrowding in its emergency department, has seen the number of permanent nursing vacancies almost double in the past three months. Stock image

A Dublin hospital struggling with overcrowding has 235 staff positions to fill - up almost 65pc on the figure of 142 from three months ago.

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Beaumont Hospital currently has vacancies for 116 nurses, 20 doctors and 16 consultants as well as another 32 clinical staff, 26 administrators, 12 support staff and 10 others.

Worryingly for its ability to cope in the face of the national trolley crisis, the number of permanent nursing vacancies at Beaumont has almost doubled in since October when there were 62 nursing posts unfilled. This is despite intensive efforts to recruit more nurses both at home and from abroad.

The hospital has recruited 30 nursing students, reducing the present nursing shortage to 86; however, these students are not classified as permanent nurses until they have graduated.

The hospital usually has around 3,500 staff. With 235 posts unfilled, this means it is running an overall vacancy rate of almost 7pc.

Lorraine Monaghan, of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), told the Irish Independent that the "severe shortage" in nurses was down to a very high attrition rate at the hospital.

She said that while hospital management has been actively recruiting staff - a high number of nurses have been leaving the hospital for a number of different reasons including their working conditions.

"There's been a high number of nursing staff who have left Beaumont - so recruitment and retention is a problem.

"Obviously there are major issues when staffing levels are so low, because patient care is compromised and staff are faced with intolerable workloads - and there's an impact on their own health, so there's an impact for staff as well.

"Staff feel obliged to work additional shifts to help out their colleagues and it's unsafe - they're working extra shifts that's putting them under extreme pressure," she added.

Other areas short-staffed in Beaumont include clinical staff, who have seen an increase of six vacancies up to a total of 32, and support staff, which doubled from 12 vacancies last October to its current level of 24.

The INMO has said a lot of work needs to encourage emigrant nurses to return home.

"These nurses left the country to get jobs and superior working conditions," said Ms Monaghan. "They're desperately needed in this country and you can see that in the likes of Beaumont they are recruiting but are struggling to get nurses to fill the positions and are struggling to retain staff."

In a response to a question, posed by Councillor Denise Mitchell to Dublin City Council, the hospital said it "the always has a high turnover of posts and, as such, is particularly challenged at present in relation to nursing vacancies".

It continued: "Strenuous efforts have been made to recruit nursing staff both at home and abroad and it is anticipated that the situation will improve in quarter two of 2016."

Irish Independent

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