Beaumont Hospital is facing an ever-growing overcrowding issue, due to part to reduction in services at nearby facilities.
Beaumont Hospital Chief Executive Liam Duffy has recently made comments to hospital staff warning them of safety issues at the Dublin hospital and stating that the hospital must regain its stability as a matter of urgency. The comments were communicated to staff via an email circulated to all members of the hospital. In the email, he described the conditions at the hospital as “unsafe” for all those involved. He further pointed out that on the day writing the email in August, there were 58 patients waiting to be discharged at the hospital. This figured included one patient who had been waiting in the Emergency Department for 44 hours.
Mr Duffy blamed the deteriorating state of care at the hospital to an acute shortage of beds caused by patients who are sufficiently fit for discharge, but who are waiting for nursing home beds to become available. The demand for beds resulted in the hospital recording 2,433 occasions during 2013 on which patients were attended to on trolleys. This is the highest figure for any hospital in the country. He further mentioned that, although the lack of beds was of extreme concern, the safety issues at the Dublin hospital were “not confined to a shortage of beds”.
The former Clinical Director of the Beaumont Hospital – Professor Shane O´Neill – resigned in April from his position at the hospital over his concern for patient safety. He said in a public letter of resignation that the volume of psychiatric patients in the overcrowded Emergency department was “entirely unsafe and indefensible”. Professor O´Neill called for the establishment of a dedicated psychiatric assessment area for patients who were suicidal or suffering from extreme psychiatric episodes.
The accident and emergency department at Beaumont Hospital is one of the busiest in the country. This is in part due to a reduction of services at the nearby Navan, Dundalk, Blanchardstown and Drogheda Hospitals. In 2013, nearly 52,000 patients attended the Emergency department and the indications are that that figure is set to rise by the end of 2014.
In August 2011, nurses at the hospital took industrial action to highlight safety issues at the Dublin hospital. At the beginning of 2014, the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation released figures which showed Beaumont Hospital to be the most over-crowded in Ireland. They are calling on the government to act on these figures, both for patient welfare and their own.