Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has been informed that the Health Service Executive is creating seven permanent nursing posts at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore. It follows a series of calls Deputy Cowen put down to the Minister for Health James Reilly.
Deputy Cowen has also been informed that following a review at the hospital there are no plans for additional beds to be opened for use.
Deputy Cowen commented: “Last month I put down a series of questions to Minister Reilly about conditions at Tullamore hospital amid concerns about overcrowding in the emergency department, staffing shortages and concerns about patient safety. There is considerable evidence that staff in the hospital are working under very difficult conditions. I am pleased that the HSE has now confirmed to me that “an analysis of agency staff nurses employed has been carried out at the hospital and approval has been received to convert 7wtes (whole time equivalents) to permanent posts.”
“I believe staffing remains a serious issue at the hospital but capacity is also a concern. I am disappointed that the HSE’s Assistant National Director for Acute Services has told me that “there are no plans to open any additional beds” at the hospital. I have met and spoken with staff and there is no doubt in their mind that having access to additional beds would ease pressure on the system. In fact that the latest published information on patient waiting lists shows an annual increase of 18% at Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore, up 235 at the end of last December compared to the same month in 2012.
“The HSE has also informed me that “hospital records demonstrate increased attendances from Kildare, Roscommon and Tipperary. The hospital has experienced a rise in in-patient medical activity in the last two years by 28% in 2012 and a further 8% in 2013. ED activity continues to rise with a 7% increase in 2013.”
Deputy Cowen added: “The HSE’s own figures make a strong case for more resources. The Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore is now seeing more patients from a wider catchment area and facing increased numbers of in-patient and emergency cases. While there has been a small step forward with the additional nursing posts announced, they will just replace current agency positions they won’t actually result in more nurses on the ground. I do not believe the Government is doing enough to ensure the hospital has the necessary manpower and support and I will be urging Minister Reilly to again assess the level of support in the hospital.”