Nurse protest has 'little impact on patients'
Published 15/03/2011 | 05:00
HOSPITAL patients have escaped the brunt of a major protest by agency staff over new lower-paid contracts.
There was disruption at three hospitals yesterday when workers who were rostered did not turn up for work. Agency staff at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise and 14 of 16 agency midwives at the maternity unit at Cork University Hospital did not show up.
Non-emergency surgery was postponed at Cavan University Hospital "as a precautionary measure".
Unions, including the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, had advised members not to work for lower rates of pay, which came into force yesterday and today.
It is understood the nurses' hourly gross pay has dropped from €21 an hour to €14 an hour under the new contracts. The HSE said there was very little impact on patient services as it brought in directly-employed staff to cover them.
The protest came after the HSE negotiated new contracts for doctors, nurses, and other professional and support staff to make savings of €40m on its €184m annual agency staff bill.
Nurses at the CPL agency claimed the drastic pay cuts would bring rates for nurses on starting grades below the wages of directly employed HSE staff, including kitchen staff and porters, in many cases.