Hospitals report high numbers of staff illness and bed shortages

Irish hospitals are facing high numbers of staff illnesses, bed shortages and rising patient numbers this winter.

A detailed filing to the Oireachtas Health Committee this week from seven hospital groups seen by the Irish examiner shows a record number of patients visiting most of the hospitals.

The filing also revealed staffing shortages related to recruitment issues and Covid-19, which led to the cancellation of procedures even in children’s hospitals.

The South / Southwest hospital group has “significantly” more patients than in 2019, the last year with normal activity.

In August, Cork University Hospital recorded 22.8 percent more patients than in August 2019. At University Hospital Waterford, the number of patients increased by 38 percent.

The group reported: “Unplanned vacations, including Covid-19 vacations, are causing staff shortages on a daily basis.

On November 19, 140 staff were absent from Kerry University Hospital.

Community bed shortages caused by the need to isolate patients with Covid delay hospital discharges.

Nursing staff are particularly challenged by the “significant increase” in Covid 19 patients outside of intensive care units who have to be treated with non-invasive ventilation, an average of 10-15 per day.

According to the report, the Cork / Kerry Community Healthcare Organization lost about 200 beds. Galway University Hospital lost 35 beds due to Covid security measures.

The University Hospital Sligo reported: “There is a poor mix of qualifications in nursing as it relies on new / young employees.”

In Letterkenny, three out of four emergency room advisor roles are filled with temporary workers.

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