Talks have got under way in a bid to avert industrial action by nurses across the health service over staff shortages from next month.
Officials from the Department of Health and the HSE met with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) yesterday to discuss demands for an improved package to incentivise nurses to apply for jobs here.
The union said hundreds of jobs remained unfilled with serious implications for patient care and existing staff burnout.
INMO chief Liam Doran said that HSE management would bring draft proposals to the union on January 20, while both sides would meet for face-to-face talks three days later.
If there is no evidence of a breakthrough, the nurses may serve notice of industrial action which would trigger in the middle of February. It will begin with a work-to-rule, which would see nurses refused to be deployed from one area of the service or hospital to another to cope with staff shortages.
The action would cause further chaos to already overcrowded hospitals.
IT was an emergency meeting with a distinct lack of urgency, according to one attendee. Gathered around a conference table at Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin, the headquarters of the Health Service Executive, last Friday were directors of the public health service, union leaders, representative groups for consultants and GPs, the ambulance service and a single patient representative, Stephen McMahon. Beside him sat Minister for Health Simon Harris.
As the HSE looks to attract Irish nurses working abroad back to Ireland and the overcrowding crisis in hospitals continues Independent.ie spoke to one nurse who has no intention of returning.