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Emergency Department Understaffed this Summer

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Emergency Department Understaffed this Summer

Landspítali

Landspítali National University Hospital. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Nurses at the emergency department of Landspítali National University Hospital of Iceland will need to take about 400 extra shifts this summer to meet a staff shortage. “Our nurses need to work a lot of overtime so we can staff the department this summer,” Ragna Gústafsdóttir, head of emergency, told RÚV. Each and every nurse needs to take on average four extra shifts.

“It’s not a new problem that we don’t get enough nurses to substitute in the summer due to summer holidays. This summer, we need roughly 30, and we will get two experienced ones, nine that have just graduated, and nine third-year students. We still need 12 more, and we won’t get them,” Ragna added.

According to Ragna, the last few weeks have been unusually difficult in the department, with more than 20 patients being kept there at a time simply due to a lack of space in the appropriate departments, at times leaving only six free beds for emergency patients, which has caused overflow into corridors and waiting rooms.

The emergency department also faces an increase of visits from elderly patients in the summer who are unable to stay at home, but cannot find space at the appropriate institutions. “This is not an issue for Landspítali; it’s a social issue, and the solution must come from the government. There are dozens here who should be in other places but come here due to lack of space elsewhere. It’s not ideal for elderly people to stay here in the emergency department,” she stated.

A new department, called the Diagnostic Department, opens at the hospital on June 1st, and is meant in part to respond to these problems. Ragna hopes this new department will help reduce pressure on the emergency department.

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