LIMERICK nurses have lost patience with management and resoundingly backed a ballot for industrial action next month.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation across the University of Limerick Hospitals Group have voted by 93% in favour of industrial action due to severe overcrowding that saw the number of patients on trolleys exceed 40 for much of last week. The number remained high - at 29 - this Tuesday.
Notice of the ballot had been delivered to management well in advance of the pressures last week and nurses described the overcrowding in the emergency department in Dooradoyle as “unabated”.
A work-to-rule will now take place on Tuesday, February 3 that will see members of the INMO refuse to perform administrative or other non-clinical tasks.
The union’s industrial relations officer in Limerick, Mary Fogarty, commented: “93% of all members have given a strong message to the HSE to heed their concerns on safety and act in the best interests of patients by ensuring that all wards are safely staffed.”
The nurses concerns relate to the unrelenting nature of overcrowding in Dooradoyle, including at the emergency department; the need for more nurses to care for patients on trolleys; the failure of the HSE to recruit additional nurses prior to opening a 23-bedded ward to deal with the overflow from the emergency department and the placement of additional trolleys on in-patient wards.
By taking industrial action, the INMO says it is also highlighting its dissatisfaction with HSE plans to re-open beds in Ennis and Nenagh without additional nurses or support staff; “a critical shortage of approximately 70-100 nursing posts in Limerick and more if beds are to open in Ennis and Nenagh” and plans to transfer patients to Croom Orthopaedic Hospital pending a review by a medical team.
“All of the above are issues of patient safety which the INMO has raised directly with the HSE. We acknowledge that additional bed capacity is required in the region but equally this requires the recruitment of nurses, and other support staff, for all proposed new in-patient areas,” Ms Fogarty said.
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