Nurses at St Vincent’s hospital vote for industrial action

INMO says overcrowding has resulted in unacceptable conditions in A&E department

St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, where INMO members in the A&E department have voted for industrial action due to overcrowding. Photograph: Dave Meehan/ The Irish Times/ File photo

St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, where INMO members in the A&E department have voted for industrial action due to overcrowding. Photograph: Dave Meehan/ The Irish Times/ File photo

 

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) working in the emergency department of St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin have voted to begin a campaign of industrial action.

The INMO says the decision follows efforts to address the overcrowding in the department, which it says has led to unacceptable conditions.

“An inability to recruit and retain nurses has made it very difficult to provide safe care for patients and it is an intolerable working environment for members,” the organisation said in a statement.

The campaign will include industrial action “up to and including the withdrawal of labour”.

On Monday October 12th members will hold a protest from 1pm-2pm at the hospital entrance. The next day, a work to rule will begin at 8am, during which INMO members will not perform clerical work or non-nursing duties and will only answer the two emergency ambulance telephones in the department.

The organisation says these steps will help nurses to focus on patient care.

INMO industrial relations officer Philip McAnenly said the nurses are “totally frustrated at management’s failure to address this problem” and members felt the move was necessary to highlight the issue.

“Patient care and safety is being compromised on a daily basis, because of this intolerable overcrowding which totally prevents our members from providing the care they believe is necessary for their patients,” Mr McAnenly said in a statement.

In a statement, St Vincent’s said management deeply regrets the decision by INMO members to take industrial action and that it will be “putting contingency plans in place” to minimise disruption and ensure patient safety throughout the protest and work to rule.

The hospital said it had taken steps in recent months to combat overcrowding, including recruiting additional nursing staff, changing in bed management, increasing the number of ward beds and sourcing additional rehab and community beds.

“However, it should also be noted that the hospital capacity challenges facing SVUH (St Vincent’s) are bigger than this hospital, and reflects both a shortage of beds across the wider hospital system and a need for greater investment in step-down care in the community for patients no longer requiring acute care in a hospital setting,” it said.

According to statistics quoted by the INMO, between January and September, 3,750 patients had to spend time on a trolley waiting for a bed, representing a 134 per cent increase on the same period last year.