Nurses’ union slams Third World conditions at UHG’s emergency department

A local nursing official has slammed the overcrowding “chaos” at University Hospital Galway’s emergency department earlier this week, likening it to “Third World conditions”.

Noreen Muldoon, the Irish Nurses’ Organisation’s industrial relations officer in the west, says 44 patients were awaiting admission from UHG’s ED overnight on Monday. Ten of the patients were moved into the surgical day ward that night while seven were nursed in the public waiting room. There were still 30 patients on trolleys in that department on Tuesday morning awaiting admission, she says.

“According to our members conditions in the department overnight were akin to Third World conditions. A record 252 patients went through the Emergency Department during this 24 hour period and staff were under severe pressure trying to cope.

“The department can neither accommodate nor cope physically or from a staffing perspective with this ongoing unacceptable situation.”

Her organisation is seeking an urgent meeting with hospital management to discuss the nurses’ concerns.

“We will be calling for the immediate opening of all closed beds in University Hospital Galway. We will also be looking for a review of the escalation policy and staffing levels and the introduction of a medical assessment unit which is urgently needed.”

A spokesperson for the HSE West confirmed UHG’s emergency department was “extremely busy” on Tuesday morning. Some elective admissions were deferred because of this.

“A medical assessment unit at UHG is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. It will facilitate the examination and treatment of medical emergency patients who present at the hospital. These patients will then be able to go directly to the medical assessment unit, bypassing the ED.

“The hospital, as always, has asked patients to attend the emergency department, only in the event of an emergency. Patients should, in the first instance, seek advice from their own GP.”

The increase in attendances at the ED is attributed to the growing range and complexity of treatments provided at the hospital. These include radiotherapy and cardiothoracic surgery as well as advances in oncology treatments, plastic surgery and maxillo-facial surgery.

There were 61,636 attendances at UHG’s emergency department last year. Some 15,034 of these required admission while the remaining 46,602 were treated and discharged.



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