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Adams urges end to moratorium on nursing staff

26 February, 2014 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD has today called on the Taoiseach to “call a halt to cutbacks to the Health services; end the moratorium on employing nursing staff; and instruct the Minister for Health to ensure that the patient-to-nurse ratio in our hospitals is optimized to protect patients.”

Teachta Adams had earlier raised his concerns at the current nurse-to-patient ratio with the Taoiseach in the Dáil following the publication this morning of an international study on this issue in the British medical journal, the Lancet.

Speaking afterward the Louth TD said:

“The international study, published today in the Lancet Journal, found that for every patient added to a nurse’s workload the chance of dying within a month of surgery increases by a shocking 7%.

“Two weeks ago a seminar held in Dublin by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also heard health professionals express concern for patient safety following last year’s Francis report into the deaths of up to 500 patients at a hospital in Staffordshire in England. There too, inadequate staffing levels, was identified as a key element in the high number of deaths.

“The INMO reported that it had recently completed a survey of 100 hospital wards in this state and that preliminary results gave rise to concern at staffing levels. The survey is said to report that nurses in our hospitals look after six or more patients with some looking after more than 12 patients at night.

“Professor Anne Scott one of the authors of the Lancet report has said that the ‘assumption that hospital staffing can be reduced to save money without adversely affecting patient outcomes may be misguided at best and fatal at worst.’ Another of the report’s authors directly linked patient risk to staffing cuts arising from austerity measures.

“5,000 nursing jobs have now been lost to the health service as a result of the government’s austerity policies. These are in the main experienced, hardworking, qualified nurses who have been lost because of the government’s disastrous austerity policies.

“These job losses and the estimated four billion euro slashed from the health services in the last 5 years, mainly under this government, have occurred at a time of increasing demand on health resources. These demands will increase with our growing older population.

“Consequently, the government’s austerity policies are stacking up a significant health crisis in the future.

“There is an onus on the government to address these concerns. The Minister for Health needs to ensure that the patient-to-nurse ratio in our hospitals is optimized to protect patients. The government should now call a halt to cutbacks to the health service, invest in our nursing staff, especially our nursing students, and end the moratorium on staffing.”

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