Republic of Ireland news

Call for probe into impact A&E overcrowding has on patients and staff safety

Trade union Siptu said that overcrowding in hospital accident and emergency departments is unsafe for both patients and workers

Demands have been made for an investigation into the impact the emergency department overcrowding crisis in the Republic is having on the safety of patients and staff.

Trade union Siptu said overcrowding is unsafe for both patients and workers and is having a "devastating" knock-on effect throughout the health service.

The body has called on the government to instruct the Health, Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to launch a probe.

Siptu's health division organiser, Paul Bell, said the HIQA can conduct investigations in emergency departments under the direction of the health minister Simon Harris.

"We are now calling on the minister to instruct HIQA to begin such investigations into the impact of the crisis in emergency departments on the health and safety of patients and workers.

"It is the view of our members that overcrowding in emergency departments results in unsafe conditions for patients and workers, as well as having a devastating knock-on effect throughout the health service," Mr Bell said.

He also called on the government to enact the Patient Safety Licensing Bill, which provides a mandatory licensing system for private and public hospitals.

"Government must also grant additional powers to HIQA to regulate acute general hospitals and give the authority real enforcement powers. This needs to happen without delay," he added.

In a bid to help tackle the overcrowding crisis the Emergency Department Task Force recently agreed that more beds in private hospitals would be used.

Last week HSE chief executive Tony O'Brien apologised to patients waiting on trolleys, saying the numbers were unacceptable.

Mr O'Brien said measures were being taken to reduce the number of people on trolleys. He said more recruitment in the health sector was needed, as well as extra beds.

Mr O'Brien said there was political consensus that the healthcare system needs to be reshaped.

"What we are seeing today will look like a picnic if we don't," he added.

The hospital overcrowding crisis is also putting pressure on ambulance services as paramedics are having to wait to discharge patients to emergency departments.

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