Tuesday 21 November 2017

Hospital chaos looms as nurses ballot for industrial action

Nurses announced they will ballot for industrial action (Stock photo)
Nurses announced they will ballot for industrial action (Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospitals face a winter of chaos as nurses announced today they will ballot for industrial action over staff shortages and pay.

A meeting of the executive committee of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation(INMO) gave the go-ahead for the ballot as part of a radical campaign which will see beds closed.

The nurses will insist on the curtailment of services, including closure of beds, where there is not enough staff to safely cater to them.

They also want accelerated restoration of cuts in pay.

They are demanding special incentives for the recruitment and retention of nurses.

Initially, the action will see nurses refuse to be redeployed, to provide cross-cover in the community for public health nurse duties or to do overtime.

It will be followed by one day work stoppages.

INMO President Martina Harkin Kelly said: "Nurses can no longer endure the current working environment."

It comes as the trolley crisis reached new heights today with a record 66 patients waiting for a bed in University Hospital Limerick this morning.

There were 456 patients on trolleys nationwide this morning with Galway hospital also badly hit.

Scores of beds are already closed across the country due to lack of nurses with some hospitals having to implement rolling theatre closures despite waiting lists reaching record levels.

Nurses have warned that with so many jobs now vacant, existing staff are faced with intolerable workloads and patient care is compromised.

The action piles pressure on Health Minister Simon Harris to introduce special incentive measures to recruit and retain nurses.

Nurses recently won two key concessions, including the reintroduction of a time plus one-sixth premium payment for hours worked in acute hospitals between 6pm and 8pm.

They also got the restoration of incremental credit for graduate nurses from 2011-2015 which is worth around €1,500 annually with effect from January.

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