Clare acute patients breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday morning after a last-ditch deal averted nurses’ strike action in Ennis Hospital and other local hospitals.
Over 1,000 nurses in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and SIPTU had voted to commence a work-to-rule in University Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital at 8 am on Tuesday.
However, this action was deferred late on Monday night after a new deal brokered between the unions and management at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) secured the recruitment of an extra 70 nurses for the UL Hospital Group.
The planned work-to-rule would have seen nurses withdraw from all non-emergency clerical and administrative duties.
SIPTU health organiser, Tony Kenny said nurses had based their decision on the extreme level of overcrowding in UHL, the lack of agreed nursing levels and failure by management to agree a fair, equitable and workable solution to ease this problem.
He said the use of additional trolleys and beds in hospital corridors and wards, coupled with the failure of the UL Hospital Group to recruit extra nurses to cover existing shortages throughout these hospitals, had brought SIPTU to “breaking point”.
INMO industrial relations officer, Mary Fogarty urged the HSE to conduct an aggressive recruitment campaign to have the posts filled immediately.
“The INMO welcomes the commitment to recruit extra nurses in UL hospitals. This is a positive outcome for members who have continued to struggle with unmanageable workloads on a daily basis due to persistent overcrowding and understaffing.
“The union is now calling for an aggressive recruitment campaign to have the posts filled immediately in order to alleviate the continued suffering of patients in inhumane conditions and to allow our members to provide safe care. All barriers to the recruitment of nurses must now be lifted,” she said.
Nurses at University Hospital Galway (UHG) have also deferred their industrial action, which was planned to start on Tuesday for two weeks.