Nurses take a stand over A&E trolleys

Simon Brouder

Nurses working in University Hospital Kerry's Emergency Department held a demonstration outside the hospital on Tuesday to protest against 'intolerable' overcrowding in the unit.

At lunchtime on Tuesday around 25 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation - on their own time - held a rally outside the HSE building on the UHK campus at Rathass in Tralee. The INMO members said they had decided to protest to highlight their "grave concerns" about continued overcrowding in the hospital's Emergency Department.

"Unlike other Hospitals, UHK did not get any additional nurses to care for patients being accommodated on the ED corridor, even though there has been an average of 17 admitted patients accommodated in the Department daily," said an INMO spokesperson.

According to INMO trolley watch figures there were 18 patients on trolleys at UHK on Monday and Tuesday. The INMO's local Industrial Relations Officer Mary Power said urgent action is needed to ease overcrowding in the Emergency Department.

"It is not acceptable that patients are required to spend days on trolleys in busy, bright and noisy conditions on corridors, waiting for a bed to become available," Ms Power said.

"Our members are very concerned at the daily challenges they continually face, trying to provide optimum quality and safe patient care in an intolerable and inappropriate environment," she said. 

"The people of Kerry deserve better," Ms Power added. In a statement issued via Dublin public relations firm Heneghan PR management at UHK said they are doing all they can to reduce the delays patients face  if they need a bed. The statement blamed the situation at UHK on Kerry's aging population and the high number of people presenting at the ED with non serious illnesses.

"The Emergency Department (ED) at UHK has been experiencing  overcrowding since last winter, due to the increasing medical demands of the elderly population here in Kerry," said the statement. 

"Hospital Management has worked on a daily basis with medical, nursing, allied health professionals and our community partners to ensure that patient delays are minimised. Initiatives such as an additional 18 'surge beds' and the provision of a multi-disciplinary assessment team in ED have been employed to good effect. Management has submitted a business case for additional beds under the "Acute Bed Capacity Review" and are awaiting a response," said management.

"In the interim, management at the hospital is asking the public to think about all their care and treatment options and keep the ED services for the patients who need them most," said the statement.