Nurses union urge Limerick hospital bosses to pull ‘threatening’ memo

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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Nurses union urge Limerick hospital bosses to pull ‘threatening’ memo

Nurses working in the front-line at University Hospital Limerick have been issued with a memo | PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER

THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has urged local hospital bosses to withdraw a memo which sees members “threatened” with disciplinary action.

Nurses at the University of Limerick Hospitals Group (ULHG) have been warned if they do not wear a specialist surgical type of facemasks, they may face sanctions.

In a memo, seen by this newspaper, front-line staff are being urged to wear a surgical facemask, and not to wear scrubs when coming into and leaving work. It  urges all frontline healthcare workers to wear eye-protection and visors, and follow Infection Prevention and Control guidance​ for the wearing of this gear.

The memo states that this will be monitored closely by line managers.

“Failure to comply may result in disciplinary procedure,” it adds.

The union has reacted furiously to this, and referred the matter to the Health and Safety Authority for further investigation.

The INMO’s assistant director of industrial relations Mary Fogarty said: “Our members are outraged. They are doing the best they can to protect themselves and patients from the virus, but are being threatened with disciplinary action. These are trained, regulated professionals whose clinical judgement is to wear safer levels of PPE – especially given the more virulent strains of Covid-19 now circulating.”

In response, a spokesperson for ULHG said: “The use of PPE including masks across the group is in accordance with national HPSC guidelines, which have not been updated to recommend FFP2 masks for general use. We acknowledge the anxiety currently being experienced by all staff and we will continue to encourage compliance with the national guidance to help protect patients and staff.”

According to sources, while the vast majority of staff are complying with the procedures in place in the hospital, there are still a small number who are non-compliant, "and are not taking the matter as seriously as they should."