IMO warns of “worsening crisis” in Irish Hospitals manifesting in Emergency Departments
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has said that there is a worsening crisis in healthcare manifesting in Emergency Departments in public hospitals. Speaking today, Dr. Peadar Gilligan, a consultant in Emergency Medicine and member of the IMO Consultant Committee said that the challenges in providing timely care facing our Emergency Departments at the moment are very likely to deteriorate further in the coming months.
Speaking today Dr. Gilligan said; “Everyone working in Emergency medicine knows that EDs are operating beyond safe limits throughout the year. We are operating beyond our capacity almost all of the time now and as we enter winter an already dangerous situation will worsen. Patients requiring hospital admission must be moved to wards in a timely manner.”
Dr. Gilligan criticised in particular the lack of beds to which patients can be admitted and the absence of a viable workforce plan or capacity building; “The Minister talks about appointing a further 50 ED Consultants but announcing and delivering something are completely different. Whilst the challenge of hospital crowding manifests in Emergency Departments the solution largely relies on timely access to investigations, specialist opinions, interventions and hospitalisation for those needing it. Given our difficulties in recruiting consultants across the health service (there are almost 900 vacant consultant posts across the system) we have to work on the basis that these posts in EDs will not be filled in time to alleviate additional demand and pressures over the coming period.”
Dr. Gilligan said that while the primary concern of doctors was the impact of crowded conditions on patients’ health and welfare, the impact on doctors and other staff was also a major worry: “our colleagues are working under huge pressure and I am very concerned about the impact on their physical and mental health. The fact that we have more demands on our health service due to a growing and aging population but less hospital beds and step- down facilities than we had twenty years ago is the root cause of crowding in hospitals manifesting in Emergency Departments nationally. The investment in critical care has started but the need for an increase in hospital beds, operating theatres, radiology and laboratory services, clinic rooms, rehabilitation facilities and nursing home places is yet to be addressed.”