Patients face further chaos as nurses to vote in favour of work-to-rule
Hospitals are facing even more chaos next month as the result of a nurses' ballot due this week is expected to see an overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action.
The members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have been balloting since November as part of their campaign against understaffing in hospitals.
If the action goes ahead in mid-to-late January it will result in a work-to-rule with nurses refusing to be redeployed.
They are also to insist that beds be closed if there are not enough nurses on a ward to properly care for patients. The action will lead to one-day stoppages if it is allowed to escalate.
The HSE said it was offering 1,000 nursing jobs and a full-time post to all graduates.
The first stirrings of discontent came yesterday as nurses staged a lunchtime protest at Mayo General Hospital, the local hospital of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
They also protested at Cavan General Hospital over staff shortages.
Nurses in Mayo have already unanimously balloted in favour of industrial action, up to and including a full withdrawal of labour, due to staff shortages.
A work-to-rule by the midwives has been postponed pending a hearing at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on January 19.
They said the action is being taken over understaffing, lack of key specialist roles and inadquate governance structures within the maternity section of the hospital.
They are demanding an independent review of staffing in the maternity unit, the appointment of a director and assistant director of midwifery and several other senior posts.
Industrial relations officer Anne Burke said: "It is of significant concern to frontline midwives that the ongoing clinical risks at the hospital due to a shortage of staff are left unaddressed."
Meanwhile, nurses in Cavan said the lack of staff is "pervasive across the hospital" and is impacting on patient care.
Industrial relations officer Tony Fitzpatrick said: "There is a clear requirement on management to ensure that there are sufficient staff on duty to provide safe care to patients and they are not fulfilling this obligation at present.
"There are significant deficits throughout the hospital including areas such as theatre, maternity, surgical, medical and the emergency department.
"Our members are extremely concerned about patient safety and are frustrated and disappointed at management's inadequate response to the issue."