Saturday 24 August 2019

Patients to bear brunt of chaos in hospitals next week as nurses' strike talks collapse

Talks: Paediatric nurse Catherine Sheridan, from Galway, outside the Workplace Relations Commission at Lansdowne House, Dublin yesterday during the negotiations on strike action. Photo: Justin Farrelly.
Talks: Paediatric nurse Catherine Sheridan, from Galway, outside the Workplace Relations Commission at Lansdowne House, Dublin yesterday during the negotiations on strike action. Photo: Justin Farrelly.

Anne-Marie Walsh and Eilish O'Regan

Patients will bear the brunt of a winter of discontent in the health service after a desperate bid to avert a 24-hour strike by more than 35,000 nurses next week collapsed yesterday.

Nurses now say they will walk off the wards next Wednesday leaving hospitals to struggle with only an emergency service.

Tens of thousands of patients on waiting lists for surgery and an outpatient appointment are being told to stay at home.

It will be followed then by an overtime ban by the Psychiatric Nurses Association in mental health facilities on Thursday and Friday.

GPs yesterday also revealed they will march on the Dáil on February 6 in frustration at doctor shortages, workload, fees and the need to "constantly apologise" to patients over the state of the health service.

Discussions between the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Psychiatric Nurses Association and the HSE over a 12pc pay rise broke down just before 6pm yesterday at the Workplace Relations Commission.

General secretary of the INMO Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the talks were a "non starter" and called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene.

She said no proposals were tabled and no further talks are planned. "Disappointingly again, we're no further on. We believe now we're very close to a national nurses' dispute where 35,000 nurses will be on strike next Wednesday.

"There's absolutely no indication of intent to divert that from what we've seen from the Government side and we firmly believe now it's time for the Taoiseach to intervene.

"The big question our members are going to ask us is where is the Taoiseach. Where is the Minister for Finance? And how come they are not intently trying to resolve the matters at stake here which are after all about patient care, about how we provide care to patients," she said.

"And are the nurses and midwives of this country the only group who are going to have to take a stand to make sure that our patients are safely cared for?"

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Simon Harris said the HSE and the Workplace Relations Commission would be available over the weekend. He encouraged both sides to use the time to find a resolution.

Irish Independent

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