Beaumont shuts A&E as patients in their 90s left on chairs
Four patients aged in their 90s were among more than 40 people waiting in an emergency department for an in-patient bed at a major hospital last night.
Severe overcrowding at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital resulted in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) calling for the emergency department to go 'off call' for an extended period last night.
Patients were being directed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, to relieve pressure in the department, the hospital confirmed.
The INMO said there were 41 patients on trolleys or chairs waiting on an in-patient bed by 8pm in the country's second-largest hospital. Of those, 18 were over the age of 75.
It described the figure as "extremely high" for that time of the evening, warning the figure was likely to increase as the night progressed.
"We had four 90-year-olds. Two of them were on chairs," said Lorraine Monaghan, Industrial Relations Officer with the INMO. "It is unacceptable that, in 2015, patients are subjected to such degrading and inhumane conditions when they are at their most vulnerable."
She told the Irish Independent the situation was "at crisis point" and claimed members were faced with intolerable workloads day in, day out - which is taking its toll, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Ms Monaghan said the situation is exacerbated by a shortage of nursing staff as the hospital cannot recruit.
"These totally unacceptable and stressful conditions prevent the nursing staff from providing safe care and cannot be allowed to continue," she added.
In a statement, Beaumont Hospital acknowledged the "difficult conditions" experienced by patients and staff at its emergency department (ED).
A spokeswoman said Beaumont has one of the busiest EDs in Ireland, with more than 50,000 patients a year.
This year has also seen a "significant increase" in attendances, she added, along with older patients with a greater complexity of illness.
"Patients can only be transferred to wards when beds become available," she added.
"A total of 33 in-patient ward beds are not available at present, due in part to essential refurbishment work for transplant patients. This work is due to be completed by the end of next month."
It's Beaumont Hospital's practice to treat all patients with dignity and care, the spokeswoman added.