Wednesday 24 January 2018

Staffing crisis means nurses can't take toilet break

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

NURSES in an intensive care unit (ICU) cannot take a toilet break because they are so short-staffed.

A clinical nurse manager has told the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) conference she feels "broken" trying to cope with the loss of seven staff members in the past eight months.

She said the situation reached crisis point on Wednesday night when four patients in the ICU at Naas General Hospital -- one of whom was in an isolation unit -- were cared for by two agency nurses and a general nurse instead of the full compliment of four nurses with ICU experience.

Theresa Dixon said the situation has got so bad at the hospital nurses on the unit don't even get a chance to take a toilet break, especially during the night shift because they cannot leave the only other ICU nurse on their own.

The conference also heard that a survey by Dublin City University revealed 70pc of Irish nurses have admitted they don't have time to comfort or talk to their patients and over a third revealed their patients don't receive adequate surveillance.


"My biggest worry is that at the end of a day's shift you realise you haven't been able to give the care to a patient that they required," Ms Dixon said.

"And what's going to happen next? Is a medication error going to occur because somebody is tired?"

Yesterday, the INMO unanimously passed a motion calling for the moratorium on recruitment to be lifted and for Health Minister James Reilly to sanction the replacement of all nurses who have left.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, Des Kavanagh, said he has been inundated with calls from nurses living in fear that cuts to their allowances or premiums will leave them unable to pay their mortgage.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin, who is reviewing allowances, is due to report back next month.

Irish Independent

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