Nurses around the country are experiencing extreme burnout due to long hours and overcrowded hospitals, the INMO has said.

Health system ‘too small to cope’

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has once again called for hospitals to curtail all non-emergency procedures as Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

It also called for greater measures to be taken to reduce workplace transmission amongst an “exhausted nursing workforce”.

According to INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha, Ireland’s fragile health services are being held together by nurses who are experiencing high levels of burnout due to extremely long working hours.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said many nurses are cancelling their annual leave to fill rosters and many nurses are reporting that they are staying beyond their scheduled work hours to care for patients.

She said: “Our public hospital system is too small to cope with servicing emergency care, Covid-19 care and elective treatments. It is time for the State to step up and ensure that all capacity that can be gained from the private sector is used.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE and political system has a responsibility to an exhausted medical workforce to ensure their workplaces are as safe as they can be.

She added there must be no tolerance for hospital overcrowding while a highly transmissible airborne virus is making its way around Irish hospitals.

“As we head into what is traditionally a chaotic time in our hospitals, the normal January patterns of overcrowding should not be tolerated. Our hospitals cannot operate on goodwill of staff alone, we need and urgent capacity plan from the HSE,” she added.

The INMO is calling on the HSE to publish and implement a plan B for dealing with the rapidly escalating capacity crisis after 287 patients were recorded to be waiting on trolleys in Ireland at the end of last month.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said if there are 287 patients for whom there is no bed in a hospital in December, that figure will be tripled by early January.

According to the latest Government update at time of going to print, there are over 880 people in hospitals with Covid-19 in Ireland, 90 of which are in the ICU. On Tuesday over 21,000 new cases were confirmed. Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said on Tuesday: “For the second January in a row, a significant surge in infection from Covid-19 is having a major impact on essential services across all sectors, including the health service”