INMO to ballot nurses on industrial action as number on trolleys tops 600
Nurses at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital vote to begin work-to-rule on January 27th
Nurses at hospitals across the State are being balloted on industrial action amid concern about the impact of overcrowding on patient safety and staff due to increased workloads.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) at hospitals in Drogheda, Naas, Mullingar, Galway and the Mid-West (Limerick) Hospital Group are this week voting on whether or not to take action.
The results of the ballots will be known by Monday.
The INMO Trolley Watch survey, which counts the number of people in hospital emergency departments or on wards waiting for admission, reached a record high of 601 yesterday.
The previous record in the 10-year history of the survey was 569.
Union general secretary Liam Doran said that, under a work-to-rule, members would confine themselves to direct nursing care duties and would not carry out other tasks such as administration, filing and collecting statistics.
The delayed discharge of patients to short-term care facilities and nursing homes is regarded as a significant factor in the current overcrowding situation.
Angela Fitzgerald, the HSE’s deputy national director of acute hospitals, said there were about 800 patients waiting to be discharged from hospital beds across the State, up from some 600 at this time last year.
She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the situation with overcrowding in hospitals over the past 48 hours “created safety concerns” but she would not say whether she believed overcrowded hospitals were safe for patients to attend.
“I think the overcrowding situation is not an acceptable situation and I think we’ve made that clear,” she said.
Lorraine Monaghan, an INMO representative at Beaumont Hospital, said staff did not want to take industrial action but were faced with a “deplorable situation”.
“Patients are being left on trolleys and chairs for days waiting for beds and in some cases lying side by side,” she said.
It said there were 36 people waiting to be admitted at Mayo General Hospital; 32 at Naas General Hospital; 31 at Letterkenny General Hospital; 31 at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown; and 30 at the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar last month established a taskforce to examine the issue of hospital overcrowding and Mr Doran yesterday wrote to him calling for it to meet immediately to discuss the ongoing problems. The union is to hold a protest highlighting the issue at Leinster House next Wednesday.