Patients told 'bring a sandwich' as catering facilities shut down
Some hospital patients caught up in today's strike have been told to "bring your own sandwich" while hundreds of others who are bed-bound in wards will be left without a cooked dinner.
As chefs and other catering staff take to the picket lines this morning, it emerged that patients who are being admitted overnight for orthopaedic surgery tomorrow in Merlin Park Hospital in Galway have been warned they should bring their own food.
Fergus Byrne, orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, said: "My patients are due to come in on Wednesday for surgery on Thursday and because there are no catering facilities have been told to 'bring a sandwich with you'."
One of the patients is travelling from Clare and another east Galway. In other hospitals there will also be limited catering services.
The University Hospital Limerick group said that many patients will be served soup, sandwiches and salads rather than a hot meal.
Contingency measures have been made with Siptu's strike committee to look after patients with special dietary needs.
There will also be problems in serving food because healthcare assistants will be on strike. It means that other staff including managers will have to take over their duties.
Mr Byrne said the hospital cannot function without support workers and criticised the HSE for the delay in solving the dispute.
"Public opinion is becoming immune to all of this now. It goes from crisis to crisis. It should not have gone this far. It looks like a shambles. Does anyone give a toss about the patients?" he said.