NURSES at University Hospital Limerick are to stage a lunch-time protest at the Dooradoyle grounds this Tuesday afternoon, in anticipation of severe overcrowding this winter.
UHL emergency department and wards have been experiencing chronic winter levels of overcrowding all year round, with nearly 1,000 patients on trolleys in August alone.
There were 969 patients being treated on a trolley at UHL last month, one of the highest ever rates of overcrowding in any month at the hospital.
Nurses attached to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and Siptu will stage a protest outside the front entrance of the hospital at 12.30pm this Tuesday.
They are demanding that the HSE and the Government fill vacancies and publish its winter inititaive. There is an estimated 75 nursing vacancies at UHL and no winter initiative plan has been published, something the NHS has delivered on already.
This Tuesday, there were 48 patients on trolleys at UHL.
In a previous statement, the UL Hospitals Group said: “We currently have 19.33 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) permanent nursing posts vacant In University Hospital Limerick and 45.03 WTE temporary vacancies which result from maternity or long term sick leave. Agency staff are engaged to keep essential services running where vacancies arise.”
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea has said the HSE has “failed to fill these posts through local recruitment and instead routinely recruit nurses from India and Philippines”.
“It’s deeply unfair that new nurses and midwives are being paid significantly less than other health care professionals. Nurses and midwives are already working under intense pressure given the lack of resources in our hospitals. The least that they deserve is to receive equal pay for equal work.
“The Public Pay Commission on recruitment and retention issues within the health service specifically states that a resolution to the pay equalisation issue for new Nurses and Midwives will be a vital measure in improving recruitment and retention in the public health service,” he stated this week.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Nurses and midwives are constantly apologising to patients for the conditions in the health service. Thousands are trapped on trolleys every week, and things will only get worse as winter bites.
“Yet the HSE still has no plan to recruit extra staff or cut back services to cope with the demand. This could lead to unplanned cancellations of elective appointments. We can’t go on like this. It’s time for the HSE to be honest with the public.”