Hospitals in Northern Ireland and London are struggling to cope due to COVID-19 pressures.
The Western Trust has appealed for all available staff to report to the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) as Northern Ireland’s health service struggles to cope with Covid-19.
In a message on social media, the trust urged all staff in the vicinity “to contact or go directly to the hospital” for work.
“Attention all off-duty staff in the vicinity of SWAH. Due to increasing pressures this evening on the NI Healthcare System we are appealing to you to contact or go directly to the hospital. Thank You,” the message read.
A joint statement issued by the Chief Executives of six hospitals and care trusts in Northern Ireland warns that more staff are needed. It reads; “In early December 2020 we issued what we described at the time as ‘a stark warning’ about huge pressures across the health and social care system in Northern Ireland.”
“This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. We need the staff to care for the increased number of patients. Pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absence because of COVID, and other reasons, mean that those staff simply aren’t there.
“We know that we speak for all health and social care staff in assuring the public that we will do everything that we possibly can to deal with the situation that is unfolding. Our staff, although exhausted, will once more go above and beyond to do the best they can for as many people as possible, and we thank them for it. It will definitely not be easy and the care that we are able to provide will at times fall short of the high standards we normally deliver but we will do our very best.”
“No-one should be attending an Emergency Department at any time unless they need emergency care. It is likely that those who do attend will wait longer to be seen and for admission to hospital if that is what they require. Patients arriving by ambulance will also wait at times, sometimes for many hours before space is available in an already over-stretched ED. This has a direct impact on the ability of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to respond, in a timely manner, to life-threatening emergencies in the community.
“Patients also need to leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave. We will work tirelessly to ensure that this happens. That might mean accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families having to go the extra mile to provide temporary support for relatives. But we will need every bed that we have for those that are most in need.
Anthony Johnson, Lead Organiser for Nurses United UK, responded to the news; “From what we’re hearing on the ground the staff of the Western have come off what little rest time they have to care for patients. But this isn’t sustainable in the long run, even before this pandemic Northern Irish nurses were underpaid which meant they were understaffed.
“It is so important for Stormont to prioritise patient safety and institute a restorative 15% pay rise.
A later update from the trust thanked staff for responding and said the situation had “since stabilised”.