EMERGENCY department nurses in Limerick are to press ahead with more protests next week despite Health Minister James Reillyâ€™s assertions they are in breach of the Croke Park agreement for public sector workers.
Members of the INMO and SIPTU will this Tuesday picket the Mid-Western Regional Hospital - their third work stoppage inside a fortnight - for four hours from 8.30am. Nurses say â€œthe limit has been reachedâ€ in Dooradoyle when it comes to A&E overcrowding. They added that they have nothing to gain personally from protests being mounted to highlight risks to patients arising from inadequate staffing levels and cutbacks.
Minister Reilly enraged Limerick nurses when he told the Dail last week that they had crossed the line with an â€œunsafe, unsound and unwarrantedâ€ action which would â€œlead to more danger for patients, not lessâ€.
â€œI believe this is ultra vires and outside the (Croke Park) agreement,â€ the Minister added.
But Mary Fogarty, INMO industrial relations officer in Limerick, has challenged the Minister to point out where the Croke Park agreement requires nurses to â€œcover up risks, safety issues and quality of standardsâ€.
â€œThe people of the Mid-West should be very proud of the nurses at the Mid Western Regional Hospital for putting the patient safety issues into the public arena. Nurses have taken a stand, on behalf of patients, that the limit has been reached in Limerick and that the safety of patients cannot be left to deteriorate further, which will happen, if left unaddressed,â€ she added.