Documents reveal hospital overcrowding issue

Mullingar’s Midlands Regional Hospital is reaching crisis point due to chronic overcrowding problems, newly released documents show.

Mullingar’s Midlands Regional Hospital is reaching crisis point due to chronic overcrowding problems, newly released documents show.

According to an internal letter obtained by the Leader, the hospital’s manager and director of nursing describe occupancy levels as “unsafe” and a situation which “cannot be maintained”.

The two-page letter also lists accident and emergency services as being unsuitable for overnight acutely ill patients, while an increased risk of hospital infection is also present because of ever greater patient numbers.

In a further admission, senior management revealed: “The patient’s privacy, dignity and care are compromised due to inadequate facilities,” adding that there is just one public toilet and one assisted toilet, no shower facilities with inadequate catering facilities also being present.

Part of plans to open a new 12-bed acute admission unit and discharge unit, it was also detailed how over 420 acute beds were lost last year with 344 being displaced during the first three months of 2010.

Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy, who managed to secure a copy of the letter, accused the Government of renaging on its pre-electoral promises.

Describing the revelations as nothing short of a “disgrace”, Mr Troy launched an attack on Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly.

“He (Mr Reilly) should be ashamed of himself. That minister went down to Mullingar a number of months ago and made no announcement, no allocation of funding.

“The situation described in this joint letter is shocking. What we have here is outright confirmation from hospital management themselves that patient safety is at risk on a regular basis,” he said.

Details of these fresh revelations are expected to heap further pressure on senior HSE chiefs.

Last week, Mr Reilly lambasted Tallaght Hospital after a scathing report by watchdog agency HIQA found no-one had been made accountable for patients who were left lying on trolleys for sustained periods.

In response, the HSE said conditions at the hospital had improved considerably over the past six months. The opening of a Short Stay Unit (SSU) and additional resources provided to its Emergency Department were just two of many changes which have since improved “patient flow” at the hospital, it said.