'Undervalued' Limerick nurses return to picket lines for day three of strike action

'Undervalued' Limerick nurses return to picket lines for day three of strike action

Nurses protested outside the gates of St John's Hospital PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER

ST JOHN’s Hospital nurses taking part in day three of intense strike action have said that they are “undervalued” and “overworked”.

As the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and Government failed to come to an agreement over pay, working conditions and staffing levels, close to 40,000 nurses took to the picket lines across the country this Thursday.

As a result of strike action, the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick has faced increased pressures as all local injury units in the Mid-West stopped operating. 

Dozens of nurses took to the picket line outside the gates of St John’s Hospital to express their dissatisfaction with working conditions.

Noreen McCarthy, a medical assessment nurse, said: “We are undervalued, we are overworked. Things have progressively kept going down. We have just had enough, really.”

Her colleague Sandra Hannan, who has been a nurse for 32 years, said there are “way too many” patients per nurse, and that newly-qualified nurses “are at the bottom of the scale” when it comes to public sector pay.

“We are not having it easy on the days we go back in on either side of these strikes. We are suffering big time, we have to pick up the slack on those days.

“A huge amount of nurses have left, girls who are not even ready to retire. But they just can’t stand the pressure. They can’t,” she told the Limerick Leader. 

Ms McCarthy said that even though they do not want to be on the picket lines, they plan to “stick it out” as three days of strike action are planned for next week. 

“We have started, and we have every intention of seeing it through. Because if we don’t, it is just going to be all in vain. This is tough, we don’t want to be here. It’s easier go in and do your day’s work, tough and all as conditions are on a daily basis.”

Dolores Fox, who has been a nurse for 30 years, said: “People are leaving the wards. There is no back-up there. Agency staff are coming in all the time. No nurses to replace us.”

Strikes may resume on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

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