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The first two weeks of March should be declared as an emergency period in the Irish public health service, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) who have expressed concern relating to the pressures that will be brought to bear on the service following on from the past five days of emergency weather conditions.
The organisation has highlighted the key issues resulting from the severe weather, including the delay to discharges and a backlog of patients scheduled for admission for elective procedures and the need for rest periods for front-line staff who have been working tirelessly and for extended periods, thus reducing available staff for services in the short term. INMO records showed that 10,772 patients were waiting on trolleys this February, 19 per cent higher than this time last year, which would indicate that hospitals were already overburdened before this adverse weather event.
Speaking today, INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “The next two weeks must be afforded emergency status.  This means extraordinary measures should be put in place to focus on recovering from this adverse weather event, ensuring prioritisation of emergency care and this will require all non-urgent and routine cases to be cancelled during this period”.
Ms Ni Sheaghdha concluded: “The dedication to duty of all health care staff, our nurse and midwifery members, medical and ambulance staff, and the examples of co-operative working between the civil defence, army and Gardaí in ensuring staff got to work and were able to deliver health care in very difficult circumstances, is a true example of selflessness and pride in the job they do every day. This is to be commended and the INMO now requires the employer to ensure practical appropriate plans are in place to cope with the aftermath of this crisis”.
The INMO will be meeting with the HSE early this week to discuss the planning in place for this adverse event and aim to agree on protocols for similar events in the future.