Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has submitted detailed questions to the Minister for Health James Reilly on staffing, safety and conditions for patients and workers at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore.
Deputy Cowen has submitted the questions following meetings with local staff representatives, contact with management and a briefing from the INMO for which was attended by Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher.
Deputy Cowen commented: “The questions I have put down to the Health Minister include requests for detailed information on spending on agency nursing, patient safety and overcrowding. I have also asked Minister Reilly if there are plans to replace nurses who have resigned or retired and numbers are down 63 since 2009, at a time when activity in the hospital has increased by up to 30%.
“I am extremely concerned about conditions at the hospital for patients and for staff. I have asked Minister Reilly whether or not he has plans to open the hospital to full capacity in order to reduce trolley waiting times and to maintain patient safety. The delivery of safe, quality care at the hospital is crucial and I have also questioned whether or not there is adequate experience nursing staff available to train, teach and mentor junior colleagues.
“I have also asked Minister Reilly for details on whether there has been an increase in infection rates at the hospital and if there has been an increase in complaints from member of the public. What has emerged as a consistent theme from meetings I have had with staff and their representatives is that pressure in the hospital has increased and cutbacks are having a huge impact. How is it possible for the hospital to operate at a safe level when nursing numbers have reduced by over 60 in recent years? There is a real concern about staff burnout and that the pressure on workers could result in safety issues for patients. Minister Reilly needs to be upfront and provided detailed replies to these questions to reassure the public.”