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Nurses threaten hospital strike action


UNDER PRESSURE Trolley numbers at Mayo University Hospital have spiked in recent days.

Michael Gallagher

As members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association threaten to strike at Mayo University Hospital, a county councillor has accused TDs of gambling with Mayo people’s lives.
Independent Castlebar-based councillor Michael Kilcoyne said he both supports and completely understands the nurses’ need to take industrial action. And he believes the blame for the staffing crisis at MUH can be laid squarely at the feet of the three government TDs.
“They’re going around announcing a few euro here and few euro there and expecting pats on the back, but they’re not lifting a finger about the most important thing of all – people’s health.
“Our nurses have run themselves into the ground, and considering industrial action is a huge but understandable step. They’re grossly overworked in unsafe conditions and are looking after many more patients than they should. They’re doing their absolute best in terrible circumstances, and they now have to plan for industrial action because the government TDs have completely ignored them.”

Severe crisis
The nationwide industrial action was sanctioned by the Executive Council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation as part of their ongoing action in pursuance of safe staffing.
Over the past month meetings have been held across the country. Nurses are ready to take their campaign to the streets, according to INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“It has been made very clear to us from at each meeting we attended that there is a severe staffing crisis in our hospitals,” she said. “Nurses in each hospital have stated that unsafe staffing is the norm. This is unacceptable in regards of patient safety and nurses’ safety at work.
“Ballots for industrial action have been sanctioned on a location-by-location basis, as it is clear that the staffing levels in certain locations are enduring a huge shortfall. We know that many hospitals cannot keep up with the pace at which nurses are leaving to work in safer environments.
“The INMO Executive Council is now seeking that the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive produce a fully funded workforce plan for the coming winter ahead of the INMO Annual Delegate Conference. If this plan is not completed, a national ballot will be considered.”

‘Empty cup’
Meanwhile, INMO President Karen McGowan said the public must flagged about the depth of the staffing crisis in hospitals across Ireland.
“Safe staffing should not be a pipe dream for nurses. Patients should be made aware of the severity of the staffing deficits that our members are trying to work through. Hospital management in each location cannot keep trying to fill from an empty cup. The expectation that we can run our health service at a less-than-safe staffing capacity must be challenged.”
As of yesterday (Monday) morning, 655 admitted patients were waiting for beds in Irish hospitals, according to the INMO Trolley Watch. Five hundred patients were waiting in Emergency Departments, while 155 were in wards elsewhere in the hospital.
In MUH, 24 patients were waiting on trollies – 12 in the Emergency Department and 12 elsewhere in the hospital.