Home » News » Nurses stage industrial action at Limerick hospital

Nurses stage industrial action at Limerick hospital

UP to 20 nurses staged a protest outside the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick to coincide with a four-hour stoppage by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) on Wednesday.

Members of the INMO and SIPTU provided skeleton staff to deal with emergency cases only during the stoppage, which continued from 1pm to 5pm.
The dispute between the nursing union and the HSE has prompted claim and counter-claim about the reasons for overcrowding at what is the closest emergency department Clare patients can directly access at night.
The union has claimed the emergency department in Limerick is unsafe and the level of nurses available to provide care is below the standard of other locations.
It has repeatedly objected to the HSE supplying overtime and agency nurses as a solution to this issue.
INMO representative, Mary Fogarty, claimed Limerick hospital has extra trolleys and beds, full in-patient wards and still the emergency department is overcrowded.
“This dispute flows directly from management’s failure to provide the required number of nursing staff to ensure, on a 24/7 basis, safe care is available to all patients attending the emergency department in the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick. 
“To suggest, as management has, that the issue of safe care can be addressed by adjustments to rosters, skill mixes and greater flexibility is simply untrue and confirms how detached management,in this hospital is from the frontline and the needs of patients,” she stated.
“Nurses working at the hospital have repeatedly raised their concerns in respect of the clinical safety issues with both HIQA and senior HSE management. Unfortunately, due to the inability of both bodies to address the deplorable clinical environment now visible daily at the hospital, nurses are driven to publicly highlight the extremely serious situation through industrial action,” Ms Fogarty said.
She said the INMO has called upon HIQA, An Bord Altranais (Nursing Board) and the Medical Council to inspect the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and other acute hospitals, to establish the impact on patient care and safe practice arising from overcrowding.
Despite a late appeal from the HSE to call off the protest, work stoppage at the hospital proceeded. Management at the hospital claimed on Wednesday they had encountered an extraordinary lack of co-operation in normal contingency planning for the stoppage, which represented, they claimed, a new and potentially dangerous departure in industrial action by nursing unions.
A HSE spokesman claimed the proposed level of cover before the protest was inadequate and unacceptable, adding that no useful purpose would be served by the action, which would only exacerbate the pressures in Dooradoyle.
“In a situation where extra funding is not, and will not be, available from the Government and all concerned know this full well, it would make better sense to sit down and see how we can best utilise the resources we have. There is no prospect of overtime payments and agency nursing being restored,” said HSE Mid-West area manager, Bernard Gloster.
“In this regard, it is vital that we call focus on the solutions, including the establishment of a new 24-hour acute medical assessment unit, the introduction of new rosters and redeployment of nurses to areas of greatest need in the hospital.  New rosters become even more important in light of the need to maintain and improve services in a financially constrained context. Other areas on which we must focus include our skill mix and the need to reduce absenteeism,” he added.
In relation to pressures in the emergency department, the HSE said risk issues arising from overcrowding should be regarded as a problem for the entire hospital to deal with.
“Hospital management cannot accede to a demand that no extra beds should be put up in wards. This is admitted to be undesirable but represents a lesser risk than allowing an unsafe build up of trolleys in the emergency department,” Mr Gloster concluded.


About News Editor

Check Also

Clare council urged to address ‘accident waiting to happen’

THE notorious Brennan’s Cross in Meelick is an “accident waiting to happen”, a local Dáil …