The National Patient Experience Survey, which was conducted during the month of May 2017, and reported on today by the HSE, Department of Health and HIQA, confirms that once patients are admitted to hospital they are, for the most part, very positive when commenting on care they receive. However, their main criticisms relate to delays in accessing services and treatment.
The majority of those who commented clearly outlined staffing and understaffing as a visible problem within the acute hospital services. One example captures the sentiment, “nurses and doctors are doing their utmost to provide care to the best of their ability in poor conditions regarding staffing levels. One poor nurse is expected to provide care to 13 patients on her own. Management need sorting out.”
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has, over the last decade, raised the consequences, of the reduction by over 3,000 full time equivalents (FTEs) of the employment figures for nurses and midwives since 2007. As recently as September the INMO was advised that the HSE had only managed to build the nursing/midwifery workforce by 13 whole time equivalents (WTEs) since December 2016.
The problem is no longer confined to recruitment. The problem is very clearly, and firmly, the inability to retain staff once recruited. The INMO’s position is that without real improvement to pay of nurses and midwives this problem will not go away and next year’s survey will be saying exactly the same thing.
Speaking this evening INMO General Secretary Designate Phil Ni Sheaghdha said:
“This survey was conducted in May, at a time where the number of patients on trolleys was at 8,154. That figure has now increased by 534 and at the end of November 8,688 were awaiting beds, on wards, in our acute hospitals. Clearly the waiting for services and treatment is now more pronounced.
The INMO welcomes the confirmation that nurses/midwives and doctors continue to work in very difficult situations but do their best and treat everyone with dignity and respect. This is reiterated throughout the survey and is important for those that work in these very difficult circumstances to hear this affirmation from the public.”