Thursday 27 April 2017

Surgery for ill children cancelled due to lack of beds

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Sick children who were due to be admitted to Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin for surgery today have had to have their operations postponed, it was confirmed last night.

A hospital spokeswoman said the children who were scheduled for the surgery have had to be put back because of overcrowding. The hospital will continue to cater for any child needing emergency surgery, she explained, adding: “This is as a result of the increased number of winter-related admissions, especially babies under one  with respiratory illnesses. They have been admitted through the hospital’s emergency department over the past week and need careful monitoring.

“In order to accommodate these children, Temple Street has opened additional beds,” she added.

It is the latest overcrowding crisis to hit the health service, despite promises by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to ease congestion in adult and children’s hospitals.

Ophthalmologist Professor Michael O’ Keefe slammed the conditions and said the problem of overcrowding has been leading to cancellations for months.

“The system is falling apart. Patients are not getting in or out,” he said.

Around 20 children are scheduled to have some form of surgery in the hospital every day. These can include neurosurgery, general surgery, eye operations or ear, nose and throat surgery.”

Earlier, nurses had called for the emergency department in the nearby Mater Hospital in the north inner city to be placed off call, saying there were 45 patients on trolleys.

A nurses’ spokesman said there were 100 staff vacancies at the Mater and the hospital was not following an agreed escalation policy whereby some services are put on hold if the numbers on trolleys reach a certain level.

Later, following a meeting between nurses’ representatives and senior management, it was reported that the situation had significantly improved.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it agreed to further talks about nursing shortages.

Stoppages

Nurses are planning to walk off emergency departments in a number of hospitals in the middle of next month as part of rolling two-hour stoppages in protest at overcrowding.

It comes as INMO leader Liam Doran continued to refuse to release details of his salary. Mr Doran has blamed pay levels for nurses for contributing to the failure to encourage enough of them to take up jobs in hospitals.

Asked if the union should release the remuneration package of its general secretary, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday: “I have always been in favour of financial transparency.

“I was the first TD to publish details of my expenses seven or eight years ago. But this is clearly a matter for the members of the INMO. It’s their subscriptions that are paying his salary, so they should be the ones to decide.”

The latest financial accounts for the union, lodged in July, reveal its pay and pensions bill remained around €5.3m for last year, although subscription income fell from €9.4m in 2013 to €8.8m.

 Its defined benefit fund had actuarial losses of almost €6m.

Earlier this year, the INMO objected to the Nursing and Midwifery Board increasing registration fees by €50 to €150.

The union’s average subscription income from each nurse last year was €237.

The union had 37,000 members in 2014, down from 38,105  in 2013.

Irish Independent

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