Union push for return of laid-off nurses to GP service
AN out-of-hours GP service that covers a population of 180,000 has laid off its practice nursing staff after insurance was withdrawn for the workers concerned.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) yesterday demanded that GP service, Westdoc, comply with a Labour Court recommendation and return laid-off practice nurses to the payroll.
The dispute between Westdoc – which provides an out-of-hours service to Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – and the INMO arises from Westdoc laying off around 15 practice nurses in March after the INMO's insurer withdrew insurance for the nurses.
The two sides held discussions last week and industrial relations officer for the INMO, Claire Treacy, said that the INMO was expecting a response from Westdoc tomorrow concerning its demand.
Ms Treacy said that a number of the nurses "are going through significant hardship".
According to the Labour Court report, the practice nurses employed part-time by Westdoc are seeking their indemnity insurance be provided by their employer at no cost to them.
However, Westdoc argued before the Labour Court that it was not the responsibility of the company to provide cover.
Ms Treacy said that providing insurance cover for the part-time practice nurses "is expensive" with quotes in excess of €2,000 per annum per nurse.
A spokesman for Westdoc said the two sides "had a positive meeting last Wednesday".
The out-of-hours service treats around 80,000 patients per annum and the spokesman said: "We have been in operation for 12 years and patients receive very positive outcomes with very positive feedback."
The INMO is seeking compensation for the nurses' loss of pay since they were laid off.
The Labour Court states that it accepts that there was no reality in the suggestion nurses associated with the dispute should provide their own professional liability insurance "and it is equally unreal to imagine that the employer could cover the cost of this insurance".
The Labour Court states that there are only two viable options – Westdoc could decide that it no longer intends to use the services of the nurses and deal with the consequences, or for Westdoc to accept that the nurses cannot obtain independent insurance and allow them to work.
The Labour Court has stated that nurses should return to the payroll while talks continue.
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