'Enough is enough' - nurses protest as overcrowding chaos looms
"I just feel with the winter coming in we are really going to struggle," said Denise Hartigan, a nurse at the Connolly Hospital, commenting about the beds, staffing and overcrowding issues affecting hospitals.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) held a protest at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin, to highlight unsafe staffing levels and overcrowding issues.
They gathered at the main entrance to the hospital at lunchtime yesterday.
The INMO fears that the number of patients without hospital beds this winter could reach record levels.
Protests have already taken place this month in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny and Cavan.
Ms Hartigan added: "We have had an unprecedented summer. I am working in the health service quite a long time. I have never experienced a summer like it. We have had extra beds up all around the hospital, I would say, since January.
"Though our management are trying to recruit nurses, we can't fill the gaps."
She pointed out that "of all the healthcare professionals, we are the poorest paid. Our pay is not equal to what other healthcare professionals are getting."
Ms Hartigan said the protest yesterday had seen a "massive turnout".
"We are heading into a winter where we are going to have extra people. Our A&E is extremely busy."
Jade Gannon, from Hartstown, Clonsilla, Dublin, who is in Connolly Hospital in her final year of training, also joined colleagues to call for action in relation to these issues. The fourth-year student general nurse said that the Government needs to take action to make pay and conditions more attractive for nurses who want to stay here after graduating.
"The Government needs to acknowledge what is going on, and not just ignore it any more. We have voices and enough is enough," she said.
INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: "The HSE must publish a realistic winter plan and commit to ending the near-permanent crisis in Irish hospitals. This should include immediate measures to recruit and retain nurses through a pay rise. Otherwise understaffing will only get worse."
The HSE was approached for comment.
This month, emergency medicine consultant Dr Fergal Hickey warned that the numbers on trolleys this winter could reach more than 1,000.