The number of patients waiting for admission to a bed at St Luke’s General Hospital has risen to 39 today (Monday), with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warning of a ‘national emergency’.
A number of non-emergency and day procedures are being postponed or rescheduled at the Kilkenny hospital to help staff cope with the workload. It makes St Luke’s the third-highest in the country for patients waiting on beds, with the trolley count at 27 and 12 on wards. The figure completes a national total of 563 patients waiting in hospital emergency departments or on wards – a record level, according to the INMO.
The organisation is renewing its call for the cancellation of all planned elective (routine) admissions, to the country’s acute hospitals, for a minimum of two weeks. It says the overcrowding is compromising patient safety, with frail and elderly patients being left on trolleys, palliative-care patients being left on trolleys for days at a time, and dangerously high workloads for staff.
“Radical action is now required which must not be limited by resources as we must end this misery for vulnerable sick patients,” said INMO general secretary Liam Doran.
The HSE has said that there has been sustained pressure on the Emergency Department (ED) at St Luke’s in recent days. Management at the hospital are asking members of the public to only turn up in the case of a genuine emergency, and advising that, where possible, a GP or Caredoc be consulted first.
“St Luke’s General Hospital wishes to reassure people, that while the hospital is extremely busy at present, that patients are been seen and cared for appropriately,” said a statement.
“The ED at [St Luke’s] is busy on a continuous basis. On average, 85 people present at the ED in Kilkenny each day – 28 of whom are admitted. From time to time, a surge may occur in patients presenting to the ED at [St Luke’s]. This has been the case recently, mainly due to seasonal illness among the elderly population.”
Due to the increased level of activity at the hospital and in order to meet the emergency and urgent care requirements, it has been necessary to use all available bed capacity – including beds normally reserved for day services usage.
This has led to the postponement or rescheduling of day procedure appointments and a number of planned (non emergency) inpatient procedures. Those who have had their procedures postponed will be contacted with a new appointment date. The management at the hospital has apologised for any inconvenience.
The hospital has undertaken several actions to help reduce the pressure on the ED, including opening additional beds in the day ward at night, ‘proactive discharge planning’, reducing length of stay, additional ward rounds, and reducing all elective work.