Firefighters 'do work of nurses to aid hospitals'
MEMBERS of Dublin Fire Brigade are "carrying out the work of nurses" to ease the strain on hospitals in the capital, it was claimed today.
Siptu has confirmed that emergency workers assisted hospital staff during the busy Christmas period by fetching and setting up trolleys for needy patients.
Hospitals are under so much strain, members of the fire brigade are "going beyond the call of duty" in assisting doctors and nurses, according to the trade union.
Emergency personnel have been setting up hospital trolleys and kitting them out with bed clothes as hospital staff struggle to deal with overcrowded waiting rooms.
The news is the latest indication of the serious staffing crisis facing hospitals across the capital.
Health sources have revealed how staff are "at breaking point" in dealing with overcrowded waiting rooms.
The Herald revealed in November that just one full-time medical post has been filled in the Dublin region since July due to the recruitment pause imposed on the HSE.
"Our staff are near breaking point. Everyday is a major struggle for them. We see this with our own eyes but there's nothing we can do," a senior hospital consultant told the Herald.
"Of course members of the fire brigade are helping out. We are all there for the same purpose," the source added.
Siptu fire brigade convenor John Kidd told the Herald that its members have been "carrying out the work of nurses" over the Christmas period.
"Cutbacks to frontline services have meant hospitals are simply over run. Members of Dublin Fire brigade see this and of course they help out the nurses.
"They are going beyond the call of duty but they know they have a major part to play in dealing with emergencies."
Mr Kidd added: "We only have 12 ambulances in the city so we need to ensure patients are transferred into the care of hospital staff as quickly as possible."
City Councillor Nial Ring today heaped praise on Dublin Fire Brigade and claimed that he witnessed first hand the assistance they give to hospital staff.
"I was in a hospital in the city at the weekend and we were taken aback by the work of the fire brigade. They came in and when they saw that the hospital staff were under pressure, they went and got trolleys themselves, set them up and made sure patients were comfortable."
The HSE could not provide a comment in time for going to press.