Patients face surgery delays
Up to 2,500 affected as talks to avert strike action at hospital collapse
THOUSANDS of hospital patients are facing delays to medical procedures after talks to avert a strike by staff broke down last night.
Unions and management failed to make sufficient progress at talks at the Labour Court to merit calling off the planned industrial action at the Mater Private Hospital, Dublin, a spokesman said last night.
Now up to 2,500 patients, some of whom require open-heart surgery, will see the procedures postponed as staff from SIPTU and the Irish Nurses and Midwives' Association strike over pay cuts of between 4pc and 5pc.
SIPTU official Paul Bell said insufficient progress had been made to merit calling off the strike. Only emergency surgeries are now expected to be carried out from Monday.
Around 2,500 patients who have surgery, day-case procedures or outpatient appointments are normally seen in the hospital each week.
The hospital hoped to continue with cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiography.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is one of those attending the hospital. Management said that cost adjustments needed to be made to remain competitive.
Meanwhile, air traffic controllers last night claimed victory in a pay dispute with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) after the Labour Court said they should be given pay rises owed to them under wage agreements.
The recommendations from the Labour Court were made in a separate dispute to the one which brought the country's airports to a standstill earlier this month.
The court yesterday backed the stance taken by IMPACT, the controllers' union. The IAA had claimed it was unable to pay wage increases due under the 'Towards 2016' national agreement. However, the court disagreed and said the IAA should pay a 3.5pc increase, backdated to January of last year, from January 2011.
A further 2.5pc increase, backdated to last month, should be paid from July 2011, and put into the firm's pension scheme.