Mayo A&E Seriously Understaffed

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh again this week raised concerns about the under-staffing of the A&E Department of Mayo University Hospital in the Seanad.  She requested that Minister Simon Harris come to the chamber to clearly outline how he was going to ensure that Mayo and other A & E had adequate staffing resources to ensure the health and safety of those working in the department and patients presenting to A & E's.

Mayo A&E is seriously understaffed, often operating with five less nurses than this time last year. This is an impossible situation.  Not only do the nurses on duty have to deal with an ever increasing number of patients coming through the door, they also have to deal with those who have been medically assessed as needing admittance lining up on trolleys.  

No matter how good two nurses are they simply cannot do the work of seven.  There is no point whatsoever trying to make up the numbers with newly qualified staff with no experience of working in a busy A & E,  this just adds to the pressure as the experienced nurses cannot provide the training they need in this hectic environment when they are already run of their feet.”

So far this year 82,459 people have been left on trolleys.  We are in danger of 2017 becoming the first year that the number of people on trolleys tops 100,000.  It is important to remember that each one of these figures represents an individual, with a family.  I commend the approach of the homelessness campaign which protested outside Leinster this week.  Their main theme of ‘My Name Is’ looks to change the attitude towards homelessness figures, stressing that behind these figures are real human beings and that each one is one too many.

We also heard the phrase ‘homelessness is not normal’. This should also apply to people languishing on trolleys.  The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine estimates that 300 to 350 patients die every year on trolleys.

If there was an outbreak of a disease there is absolutely no capacity left in the hospitals to deal with it.

Sinn Féin in our policy document “Tackling the Trolley Crisis” seeks to resolve this crisis by using existing resources without seeking more capital spend.  It maps out how to increase capacity by re-opening beds that were closed, increasing recruitment and retentions of staff, to provide adequate step down facilities, Home Help and homecare packages.