Strike averted at University Hospital Limerick

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

University Hospital Limerick
INDUSTRIAL action has been deferred at the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) today, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation secured 70 additional nursing posts around the region at the Labour Relations Commission.

INDUSTRIAL action has been deferred at the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) today, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation secured 70 additional nursing posts around the region at the Labour Relations Commission.

A work to rule was scheduled in hospitals across the Mid-West today, but that has been deferred following a breakthrough in talks in relation to the ongoing over-crowding and under-staffing issues.

Last month nurses voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action due to the ongoing overcrowding crisis at the Emergency Department of UHL. Management at the hospital say they are working hard to address the persistent problem of overcrowding, but there is no quick fix.

Now, the INMO has announced that 70 nurses to be recruited for the University Hospitals Group including University Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.

The INMO secured the extra nursing posts at two separate hearings under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission in relation to the overcrowding crisis. INMO industrial relations officer Mary Fogarty, Mid West region, said they welcome the commitment to recruit extra nurses in the above hospitals.

“This is a positive outcome for our members who have continued to struggle with unmanageable workloads on a daily basis due to persistent overcrowding and under-staffing.

“We are 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,” said Ms Fogarty.

Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO director of industrial relations, said “every effort to recruit nurses must now be made”.

“Posts agreed in the past week between management and the INMO in Beaumont, Galway, the Mid West and Naas are necessary posts to allow safe service delivery and impact on the chronic overcrowding. We now need immediate visible action to prioritise this necessary recruitment.”

The organisation will monitor the situation over the next two weeks and has requested the continued involvement of the LRC.

While the threat of industrial action hung in the balance until yesterday, in advance of this management at University Hospital Limerick had begun a recruitment drive to boost their numbers.

It falls far short of the 70-100 positions the INMO says are required, but the hospital has received 65 applications for the 23 full-time nursing posts for which it has funding.

Prof Colette Cowan, chief executive of the UL Hospitals Group, she wants to cast the net wider by encouraging nurses who have emigrated to the UK, to Australia and elsewhere to return home.

“A lot of people left during the fiscal crisis and we need to get our own people back on fixed term contracts and we are making inroads on that, “ said Prof Cowan, whose own background is in nursing.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, in welcoming the announcement of the recruitment of extra nurses, said he hopes “that this decision will herald in a new period for the hospital as we move toward the opening of the new state-of-the-art A&E facility next year. Patients and staff have faced persistent overcrowding problems over a period of years.”