Now nurses to ballot on work stoppages aimed at flu season
Hospitals are facing chaos as angry nurses ballot for industrial action which may lead to bed closures and one-day work stoppages.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has embarked on a campaign to secure incentive packages, to stem the flow of nurses abroad and reduce the exodus which is leaving hospitals struggling with severe under-staffing.
The union also wants the restoration of cuts to pay and conditions under the Lansdowne Road Agreement sped up.
INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly warned the lack of nurses was putting patients at risk and staff were broken from excessive workloads.
She said it was accepted that patients were safest, and death rates lower, when there were "sufficient nurses and midwives working in positive environments providing their care".
The nurses said the over-stretched staff were reporting repeated episodes of missed care not just in hospitals but also in centres for the elderly and in disability services.
Up to 30 patients could be left under the sole care of third-year students in some services.
General secretary Liam Doran said the nurses would start balloting on November 24 and would have a result on December 15. They will give three weeks' notice, which means industrial action could begin in January when hospitals are overwhelmed by patients suffering flu and winter illnesses.
Nurses will begin with a work-to-rule, which would result in beds being closed in wards where there are not enough nurses. This would be followed by one-day stoppages.
The incentives for nurses must include financial packages as well as more funded professional development courses.
A record 66 patients were on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick yesterday morning with 456 patients waiting for a bed nationwide.