Strike action by nurses is back on as deal rejected
Hospitals already struggling to cope with a rise in the flu and respiratory illness risk chaos next week as emergency department nurses go on strike.
It follows the surprise rejection of settlement proposals by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). Members voted by a margin of 58pc to 42pc yesterday to dismiss an offer from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) aimed at easing overcrowding, staffing and patient safety issues.
The WRC offer included cash bursaries for further education, promotions, two days' additional leave and a review of staffing.
The rejection means that a series of deferred two-hour stoppages in seven hospital emergency departments across the country will go ahead on Thursday week unless some fresh intervention is made.
The INMO executive has convened a meeting of its emergency department strike committees and representatives tomorrow.
The rolling two-hour stoppages will see all emergency department nurses walk off the job. Union chief Liam Doran said the strike action on January 14 will be followed by similar stoppages to take place the following week.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was disappointed the INMO decided to reject the proposals brokered by the WRC by a margin of 58pc to 42pc.
"Strike action during the busiest time of the year will not resolve overcrowding, but will compromise patient safety.
"It took several weeks to negotiate the agreement that has now been rejected and I would ask them not to go ahead with the strike next week in order to allow time to pause for reflection," he said. A spokesman for the HSE the rejection was by "a small margin".
He said the HSE remains hopeful that further discussions and clarifications regarding the implementation of the Escalation Policy at local level may assist in resolving matters and prevent industrial action.
However, Mr Doran warned: "It is quite clear that, in rejecting these proposals, our members were stating that they had no confidence in senior management, at local level, to implement the proposed measures on a continuous basis."
The hospitals earmarked for stoppages include Beaumont in Dublin, Mercy University Hospital in Cork, Tallaght Hospital, Cavan General Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, Tullamore Hospital and University Hospital, Galway.