Chief Executive Warns of Safety Issues at Dublin Hospital

The Chief Executive of Beaumont Hospital has written to staff warning them of safety issues at the Dublin hospital and stating that the hospital must regain its stability as a matter of urgency.

Hospital Chief Executive Liam Duffy made the comments in an email circulated to all members of the hospital staff in which he used the term “unsafe” to describe the current situation at the hospital. On the day of the emailed warning in August, Dr Duffy pointed out that there were 58 patients waiting to be discharged at the hospital – including one who had been waiting in the Emergency Department for 44 hours.

The situation has worsened, Mr Duffy wrote, due 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 – the highest figure for any hospital in the country – and safety issues at the Dublin hospital are not confined to a shortage of beds.

The former Clinical Director of the Beaumont Hospital – Professor Shane O´Neill – resigned in April over safety issues at the Dublin hospital. 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 Emergency department at Beaumont Hospital is one of the busiest in the country since 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 and, 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.