26-08-2015 | Beaumont Hospital Epilepsy Monitoring Unit affected by nursing shortages

26 August 2015
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The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Beaumont Hospital is the latest service to be affected by nursing shortages. The four-bed Unit was re-opened in 2013 following an upgrade which led to the Unit being closed for a year due to staff shortages.

Less than two years later, the Unit which vital for assessing and monitoring patients with severe epilepsy has again been closed due to a system-wide shortage of nursing staff which are necessary to run the service.

The Unit has been closed for almost a month and while it has re-opened again this week, it will once again close from next week until September 21st.

Despite the doubling of capacity in the Unit following renovation in 2013 and the opening of a second Unit in Cork University Hospital (in January this year, following a two-year delay due to staffing issues), there is currently a waiting list of over a year for epilepsy monitoring. This is largely as a result of the long closures which saw epilepsy monitoring grind to a halt in the country and saw a number of urgent cases referred to the UK for basic monitoring. Aside from the inconvenience caused to people with epilepsy and their families, this 'solution' was at a huge unnecessary cost to the State.

The current temporary closures are not only creating additional inconvenience and stress for those already on the waiting list but they will result in longer waiting times as new patients are added to the list.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) recently said that shortages of nursing personnel in the wider health system were a legacy of recent policy that ensured no new nurses were recruited. The INMO points out that nursing posts in the UK and elsewhere are seen by Irish nursing graduates and nurses from overseas as being a more attractive proposition than working in the Irish health system.

The HSE has recently launched a campaign to attract home up to 500 Irish nurses working in the UK system, but it's too little and it's too late for the epilepsy patients whose monitoring, an essential element in the preparation for potentially curative surgery, has been cancelled or delayed in recent weeks.

Epilepsy Ireland is concerned that system-wide shortages may also have an impact in other essential services, including epilepsy monitoring in Cork. We are again calling on the HSE to permanently resolve the staff shortage that is causing this vital epilepsy service to grind to a halt yet again. Having waited for years to get a modern, fit-for-purpose monitoring service, epilepsy patients and their families should not have to suffer yet again.

Lobby your TD on this issue – click here for a list of TDs and their email addresses


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