WATCH: ‘There will be no nurses left’ - Strikes take place at Limerick hospitals

OVER 200 nurses took to the picket line outside University Hospital Limerick this Wednesday morning to demand pay increases and government action on staff shortages.

The crowds, who braced snow and hail, had been protesting outside the entrance to the hospital from around 8am. 

Nurses and midwives are taking to the picket lines at all hospitals in Limerick today between 8am and 4pm, to protest against ongoing issues in relation to pay and conditions.

Talks between the union, HSE and the Department of Health broke down in the lead up to the historic day of strike action - only the second time in INMO history that nurses have engaged in a nationwide strike action.

Julie Brazil, a nurse at UHL, explained why she had joined the protest.

“I’m here today for the restoration of proper services for patients. I am a nurse, and I have a daughter who’s a nurse and it’s to restore services for her future,” said Julie.

“In different departments, the conditions are different. But across the board, staff levels are very low. There aren’t enough nurses in any department as far as I can see. This puts everyone under terrible pressure, and I don’t know if patients are getting the care because of it,” she added.

The protesting nurses were met with the support beeps of passing cars, as well as the praise of patients who had come from their beds to show support.

Gary Savage is an intensive care nurse at UHL. He explained the working conditions which have led to the strike.

“We are protesting the appalling conditions nurses are having to work in and patients are having to suffer. You're are talking about wards which should have six nurses, they only have three nurses. As a result, the patients aren’t getting the care they deserve and require,” said Gary.

“The nurses are getting exhausted because they are they are having to do twice as much work. The new student nurses who are coming through are seeing how poorly there own colleges are treated, and how difficult they are treated, so they don’t want to work here,” he added.

A long list of services will not be operating this Wednesday as a result of the strike. They include:

· Injury units will not operate

· Planned inpatient surgery is cancelled. Inpatient is when you need to stay in hospital for one night or more.

· Planned day case procedures are cancelled. Day case is when you are given a hospital bed or a trolley but will not stay overnight.

· All outpatient appointments are cancelled. This includes adult, maternity and paediatric appointments. Outpatient is when you go to hospital for an appointment but don't stay overnight.

· If a pregnant woman needs urgent assessment due to the cancellation of an appointment, she should go to the emergency admission room at University Maternity Hospital Limerick

A number of services that will remain in operation include:

· Emergency Department at UHL (adult and children). Please only attend our emergency services if absolutely essential

· Maternity services (Delivery suites, home births, special care baby units, neonatal)

· Colposcopy services

· Oncology services (chemotherapy and radiotherapy)

· Dialysis

· Planned obstetric procedures (based on clinical need)

· Palliative care

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