Pic: ©The Mayo News
Mayo University Hospital is in chaos, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
Staff on seven wards have raised formal grievances with the HSE and in a written submission, one nurse has said she can no longer stand over the standard of care given to patients.
The Saolta University Health Care Group has responded by saying there has been a huge surge in numbers attending the hospital recently. The group – which comprises hospitals in Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Ballinasloe, Letterkenny and Sligo – confirmed to The Mayo News that it is actively linking with recruitment agencies at home and overseas to source more staff.
‘People are frightened’
Castlebar-based Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, who has been outspoken on the hospital issue for quite some time, fears the situation is at breaking point. He said he has received a stream of complaints in the past two weeks.
“People are frightened. They’re dreading the prospect of having to go into the hospital, and I even have people crying with fear of their children getting sick and having to spend time in there,” he told The Mayo News.
“It’s at a stage now where the minister [Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly] doesn’t care; the HSE doesn’t care and our local TDs don’t seem to care,” he said. He also said that restrictions on visitors entering wards has had a major impact on care.
“There are people being left hungry. Their food is left in front of them, and if they’re not fit to eat it themselves it’s just taken away again. It’s all down to lack of resources. Roscommon Hospital was closed and the patients moved to Castlebar, and there wasn’t one extra resource put into Castlebar – no staff, no space, no nothing."
Ann Burke of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said her members are at the end of their tether and the situation in Castlebar is chaotic.
“The atmosphere in the workplace is dire and nurses are leaving in large numbers. Much and all as they want to work with and care for patients, they cannot take much more of it.”
Saolta, which provides acute and specialist hospital services to the West and North West of Ireland, refutes that description. In a statement to The Mayo News on Monday (yesterday), it said there has been a very significant ‘return of patients’ (post lockdown) to the hospital, similar to the national situation, and that the Emergency Department is seeing record levels of attendance, which is putting significant pressure on the hospital.
In its statement, the group said that plans are being put in place to upgrade the Emergency Department. It also agreed that further investment is required, but said there has been work underway to upgrade facilities at the hospital in the last 12 months.
“Last November, refurbishment works were completed on two medical wards in the hospital (66 beds) to address one of the bigger and long-standing infection control issues at the hospital. The upgrading work addressed reducing the risk of outbreaks due to cross infection and [introducing] easy-clean surfaces for walls and floors.
“As part of the Capital Plan 2021, funding of €0.10m [€100,000] has been allocated to initiate a design feasibility project for the expansion of the Emergency Department and Acute Medical Assessment Unit, which is a significant step forward in developing additional capacity for the hospital, as well as funding to update the development plan for the site.”