Northern Ireland’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has written to health authorities raising concerns about the “continuing and persistent pressures on hospital services”.
Rita Devlin, Director of RCN NI, said last night she was calling for ‘immediate attention to address this issue to avoid further harm to patients’.
It comes as Department of Health figures yesterday revealed that the overall hospital system in the north was operating at 106 per cent capacity.
Eight hospitals were operating under such pressure, including at South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, where staff have faced high demand in its emergency department since the weekend.
Ms Devlin said: “The current situation is completely unacceptable for all nursing staff.
“The most concerning aspect of this is that patient care, and therefore patient safety, is compromised at all levels.
“We face situations where we don’t have the resources to give good basic care and the patients, especially those in the hallways, have no dignity in their care.”
She said the MRC had written to the Ministry of Health, the RQIA, the Health and Social Care Trusts and the Assembly Health Committee to “raise our concerns, but we again ask that a Immediate attention be given to resolving this issue to avoid further harm to patients.”
Dr Paul Kerr, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine NI, also said they were “deeply concerned” that A&E units “continue to face severe pressure”.
“Staff are pushed to their limits; they’re doing everything they can to keep patients safe, provide care and move patients through the system,” he said.
“But the current situation is stressful for staff and puts patient safety at risk.
“It’s really difficult and the patients face extremely long waits while the staff are increasingly stretched.”