Four nurses have resigned from their positions at the National Hospital’s Emergency Ward since yesterday, citing unacceptable working conditions and strain, RÚV reports. Ten other resignations took effect last March, and ER Department Head Helga Rósa Másdóttir says staffing shortages are already affecting the ward’s operations.
The emergency ward at Iceland’s National University Hospital has 30 beds. Nearly 100 patients were registered there yesterday, 33 of which should have been in other wards that could not admit them due to lack of space. Some patients waited over five hours for medical attention.
Such days have become the norm rather than the exception, according to Soffia Steingrímsdóttir, a nurse who resigned from the ER yesterday after seven years in the position. In a Facebook post, Soffia stated that she loves her job, but has given up hope that the situation at the ER will improve.
Cuts elsewhere impact emergency services
Helga Rósa told RÚV she is concerned it will be impossible to fully staff the ER this summer when many of its regular staff go on vacation. Staffing shortages are already affecting the department, which cannot utilise all of its space because it does not have enough staff to monitor the entire area. Helga says cuts elsewhere in the healthcare system come down on the ER, which ends up with patients on its hands that should be treated elsewhere but are turned away for lack of room.
Emergency ward staff have been vocal about the ward’s situation for years, stressing that staffing shortages and poor conditions put patients at risk. In 2019, a partial audit published by the Directorate of Health found neither lodging nor staffing conditions at the emergency ward fulfilled regulations and that the ward could not ensure patients’ rights regarding care. In the wake of the audit, the Director of Health recommended increasing staff at the ward, particularly nurses, as well as reviewing their wages and working conditions.