TRADE Union Siptu is calling on the HSE and the South/South West Hospital group to take urgent steps to address the shortage of nursing staff at University Hospital Kerry (UHK).
Siptu’s Kerry Health Division Branch Organiser Donie Doody told The Kerryman that the “grave shortage” of nursing staff at UHK has resulted in “dangerously low” staffing levels on many wards in the hospital.
This position did not arise overnight. It has continued over a period of time,” Mr Doody said.
“Many nurses who have years of experience have, over a number of years, been leaving UHK. This has resulted in dangerously low staffing levels on wards on most days,” he said.
Mr Doody said that frequently a single nurse is expected care for as many as 15 patients, many of whom are acutely ill with a variety of complex conditions.
“When staff have highlighted the risks due to the shortfall they have been told that every ward is short staffed and nursing management have no more resources to give”.
“This is leading to a situation where staff find it very difficult to get their breaks and go off duty on time in the evenings. This leads to very low staff morale and this in turn leads to more sick leave because of job dissatisfaction, which consequently compounds the staffing problem,” Mr Doody said.
Mr Doody said that Management at UHK have acknowledged to Siptu that there is a shortage of approximately 100 nurses at the hospital and has called for the shortage of ward nursing staff to be addressed urgently.
He added that overcrowding at UHK’s Emergency Department is further worsening the situation, and adding to nurses’ workload, due to the demand for beds for patients coming from the ED.
“Nurses are being taken from one ward and sent to another to help out with workloads, this is robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Mr Doody said.
The shortage of ward nursing staff at UHK has to be urgently addressed along with the causes of why so many skilled experienced nurses are leaving. The shortage of nurses on all wards is also affecting nurses on night duty. This leads to an unsafe and pressurised environment where staff are forced to work day in and day out,” Mr Doody said.
Siptu are calling for action to alleviate the problem to be taken “without delay”.
The HSE have been contacted for comment.