Monday 11 December 2017

FF urges Varadkar to halt nurses strike due at St Vincent's

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was last night urged to intervene to prevent industrial action by nurses at St Vincent's University Hospital.

Nurses in one of Dublin's busiest emergency departments are planning a lunch-time protest followed by work-to-rule action to highlight overcrowding.

Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said the action was a direct result of "frustration" by nurses over working conditions and called on Mr Varadkar to intervene.

Last night a spokesman for the minister declined to comment on the dispute.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will hold a lunchtime protest on Monday. On Tuesday, nurses will withdraw from clerical work and non-nursing duties and will only answer two emergency ambulance phones.

The dispute is between nurses and hospital management regarding the number of patients admitted on trolleys due to overcrowding amid claims that the emergency department is understaffed.

The organisation also claims the inability to recruit and retain nurses has made it difficult to provide safe care for patients and created "intolerable working environment".

INMO industrial relations officer Philip McAnenly said nurses are "totally frustrated".


"Patient care and safety is being compromised on a daily basis because of this intolerable overcrowding which prevents our members from providing the care they believe is necessary for their patients.

"Members believe they have now no option but to highlight the unacceptable conditions," said Mr McAnenly.

Mr Kelleher said Mr Varadkar should immediately give a commitment to seek additional funding for the country's hospitals.

"He should take a hands-on approach in dealing with the overcrowding issues in our hospitals by providing additional step-down beds and facilities," Mr Kelleher told the Herald.

A spokesman for St Vincent's said that it "deeply regrets" the decision of the nurses to resort to industrial action.

However, he said patient safety will not be compromised and that management will put in place contingency plans to minimise any disruption.

"The hospital capacity challenges facing SVUH are bigger than this hospital, and reflects… a need for greater investment in step-down care in the community for patients no longer requiring acute care in a hospital setting," the spokesman added.

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