MIDWIVES in Limerick have voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of industrial action, which is set to commence at the end of this month.
The recent ballot of midwives at the University Maternity Hospital in Limerick, the fifth busiest maternity hospital in Limerick, saw 97.5% of midwives vote in favour of a work to rule.
That action - scheduled to commence form 8am on Friday, November 27, will see midwives withdraw from all clerical administration roles and prioritise all care for pregnant women, mothers and babies.
This action is independent of the ballot conducted by the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation of nurses in emergency departments, which will commence on November 9.
The INMO said to date the HSE has failed to address the significant clinical midwifery deficits at University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
The hospital has approximately 5,000 births per year, but only has a clinical midwife workforce of 112 midwives.
“This has resulted in an unacceptable midwife to birth ratio at the present time of 1 midwife to 44 births,” stated the INMO.
“The present offer from the HSE of only 10 additional midwives will bring this ratio to 1:41.
“This is in excess of the international midwifery standard of one midwife to 29.5 births and is obviously a cause of concern to frontline midwives. The INMO is calling for the immediate recruitment of midwives to ensure safe standards are reinstated at the hospital.”
The UL Hospitals Group said it is disappointed that the INMO is to take industrial action, which has “the potential to cause disruption and will require careful planning around contingencies”.
The action comes after conciliation talks at the Workplace Relations Commission over staffing and other issues failed to find a resolution.
The INMO said it has notified the HSE of its availability to attend further WRC discussions.
The union has formally notified the HSE of the industrial action giving the standard three weeks’ notice in advance of the work to rule.
“It is regrettable that the HSE has failed to address the clinical midwifery deficits raised by the INMO as far back as January 2015,” said Mary Fogarty, INMO industrial relations officer.
Ms Fogarty said greeater standards must be adhered to in all maternity hospitals to ensure safe care of pregnant women, mothers and babies.
The UL Hospital Group said that to date this year, 55 midwives have been employed on permanent contracts by UL Hospitals Group.
In addition, 13 midwifery graduates, from the class of 2015, have recently been offered contracts and they hope to see them take up appointment in the coming weeks.