Wednesday 25 April 2018

Talks aimed at averting industrial action by nurses adjourned

Some 37 patients were on trolleys in the Beaumont Hospital emergency department yesterday. Photo: Collins
Some 37 patients were on trolleys in the Beaumont Hospital emergency department yesterday. Photo: Collins Newsdesk Newsdesk

Talks aimed at averting industrial action by nurses in seven of the country's emergency departments have been adjourned for the evening.

Today's negotiations were described as 'positive' by all involved.

But nurses have stressed that management will have to keep their promises with visible action on working conditions in the emergency departments, or otherwise Thursday's strike will go ahead. 

The Workplace Relations Commission said they hope to put forward working proposals tomorrow.

A spokesman for Health Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday that he hoped there was a resolution in the interests of patients.

Some of the measures demanded by nurses to free up beds, however, involve increased cancellation of admissions by waiting list patients needing surgery.

This will drive up treatment delays in the coming weeks and months.

The end-of-year waiting list figures show 459 of those needing surgery are in the queue for more than 18 months.

And 5,262 are waiting more than 18 months to see a specialist.

Many patients have been outsourced for private appointments to try to make inroads into delays for the longest waiters.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesman for the Department of Health insisted the overall trend was positive.

He said: "It should be noted that a number of patients who had not yet had appointments have been scheduled for treatments or appointments in the coming weeks."

At the end of December no child who was suitable for spinal surgery to treat scoliosis was waiting more than 15 months in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.

Some 39 children in need of spinal surgery on the Crumlin waiting list had now been transferred to either the Blackrock Clinic or the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore in the UK for treatment in the coming weeks, said the spokesman.

The department said that the overall numbers of patients on outpatient waiting lists had fallen to 375,000 at the end of December. This was at its lowest level in 2015 and amounts to a reduction of more than 10,000 on previous months.

Hospitals which have been worst hit by the trolley crisis also have the highest numbers of patients waiting the longest for surgery.

Some 179 are waiting longer than 15 months for an operation in Beaumont Hospital and 34 of these need neurosurgery.

Some 37 patients were on trolleys in Beaumont's emergency department yesterday morning and another seven in wards.

In Galway University Hospital, there are 421 patients on waiting lists for surgery for more than a year. The highest numbers are waiting for hip and knee surgery.

Temple St children's hospital in Dublin has 67 children waiting more than nine months for surgery after cancellations last month due to the rotavirus.

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