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Nurses transferred to Savita ICU after shortage of staff

NURSES had to be transferred to the intensive care unit at Galway University Hospital where Savita Halappanavar died due to staffing problems in the weeks after her death.

Savita was moved to the intensive care unit after her condition due to septic shock became critical last October.

Despite frantic attempts to save her by intensive care staff, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the early hours of October 28 last.

Staffing shortages were not implicated as a contributory factor in her death.

But in December, the hospital had to call on nurses from orthopaedic wards in nearby Merlin Park hospital to help staff the unit.

A spokeswoman for the HSE told the Irish Independent that a sufficient number of nurses was maintained in the intensive care unit at all times.

"It's important to have sufficient nursing staff for the number of beds in use in the unit – currently eight. The sufficient number has been maintained at all times, so there was and is no understaffing."

She confirmed that, as a temporary measure, a number of nurses had to be transferred from the orthopaedic unit at Merlin Park hospital last December. This led to a number of patients having their orthopaedic procedures postponed until the new year.

She said: "As you will be aware, Merlin Park and University Hospital Galway are part of one hospital service and are now part of the Galway and Roscommon University Hospitals Group.

"Last December, a number of intensive care unit trained staff based on the Merlin Park site moved to University Hospital Galway to support critical care services on that site on a temporary basis.


"During this time, a number of elective orthopaedic cases at Merlin Park were postponed until the new year."

She said the HSE was now actively trying to recruit additional staff in order to put additional beds in the intensive care unit in University Hospital Galway into use.

The inquest into Savita's death will resume tomorrow and will hear from expert witnesses who will be asked to give their views on the standard of care she received.