The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said that the HSE cannot hide behind COVID as a reason not to publish independent reports into the health service.
This comes as the Independent Review of Unscheduled Care Performance was released through a Freedom of Information Request.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Organisations such as the Irish Patient’s Association should not have to get important reports such as the Independent Review of Unscheduled Care Performance through Freedom of Information request.
“It has been an extremely challenging two years for the health service on the back of several record-breaking winters in succession. It is not good enough for the HSE to deem COVID as a reason not to publish independent reviews into our health service.
“Hospital overcrowding will always be a relevant issue to our members. Since the Chief Operations Officer wrote that COVID has deemed an independent review into overcrowding into nine of our most overcrowded hospitals in the country as not relevant, over 106,813 patients have been without a bed in Irish hospitals.
“The results of this review are particularly damning when it comes to the times patients were waiting to be admitted to our emergency departments, with patients waiting nearly seventeen hours in Galway University Hospital. We know that if a patient is on a trolley for more than five hours it can have a significant detrimental impact on their health and indeed their mortality.
“COVID has made the recommendations in this independent review even more pertinent, with the authors of the report calling for a review of infection prevention and control measures to be carried out. This was a problem pre-COVID and one we are facing now in extremely overcrowded hospitals where COVID infections rates are high and the practice of placing “any bed, anywhere, anytime” continues despite the clear consequences for patients and staff.
“Reports such as these cannot be written off as unimportant or irrelevant because of COVID, in fact they should be viewed as even more important due to the implications of COVID on overcrowded hospital environments. Hospital overcrowding is a real feature in our hospitals and one that INMO have been sounding the alarm on for far too long. The INMO have been calling for independent reviews into different hospitals when our hospitals have been at their worst when it comes to overcrowding during the pandemic and yet this report has been gathering dust.”