Thursday 21 February 2019

Operations for children postponed over strike

Crunch talks: INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly with INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha at the Workplace Relations Commission. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Crunch talks: INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly with INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha at the Workplace Relations Commission. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Eilish O'Regan and Anne-Marie Walsh

Children's operations are being postponed ahead of a 24-hour strike by 46,000 nurses and midwives next week.

The three main children's hospitals in Dublin have already begun contacting parents to inform them that some surgeries scheduled for Wednesday will not go ahead if nurses mount pickets.

"We have also begun the process of contacting parents over the remainder of this week in order to inform them of postponements of in-patient admissions and outpatient appointments," a spokeswoman said.

Tens of thousands of patients are at risk of having their treatments cancelled as nurses plan a series of six stoppages to get a 12pc pay rise.

Nursing unions warned that next week's strike is still scheduled to go ahead, as there was no breakthrough at crunch talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Discussions were due to resume this afternoon.

Hospitals are expected to start scaling down services from Monday in a bid to reduce the number of patients who need to be cared for as striking nurses provide only emergency cover.

The main children's hospitals, Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght, will be hit if the 24-hour stoppage goes ahead, and reduced to a minimum level of service.

Parents of children in need of surgery are already getting calls to alert them to the postponement of surgeries and appointments, according to their umbrella body, Children's Health Ireland.

The Ireland East Hospital Group has contacted all its 11 hospitals to ask managers to inform patients their appointments will be postponed on Wednesday. Postponed services are to include elective surgery, out-patient clinics and some day services.

A spokeswoman said the group "will endeavour to ensure that all patients are kept informed in a timely manner but also advise the public to pay close attention to local and national media outlets for further updates."

The Dublin Midlands Hospital group said it is currently establishing the number of patients who will likely be affected by the industrial action.

It will begin the process of contacting patients over the remainder of this week.

The University of Limerick Hospital Group said it is working out contingency arrangements with nurses around the proposed national strike.

"Strike committees are in place and contingency meetings are being held by site managers," it said in a statement.

"However, we do expect that patient services leading up to and on the days of the strikes will be impacted and we are working with Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation representatives to understand the level of impact this will have."

Irish Independent

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