Nurses union warns deal will lead to longer waiting lists

Agreement which led to strike being averted will provide additional leave and promotions

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said waiting lists are likely to get longer if a new deal with emergency department nurses is agreed. Photograph: The Irish Times

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said waiting lists are likely to get longer if a new deal with emergency department nurses is agreed. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Waiting lists will get longer if members of the INMO accept a deal which averted industrial action planned for Tuesday by emergency department nurses, the union has warned.

Speaking after the late night agreement was reached INMO general secretary Liam Doran said one consequence was that when emergency departments become overcrowded hospitals will be required to cancel or defer elective procedures to reduce the number of additional beds in wards and trolleys in emergency departments.

“If this [deal] works, and we expect it will work, then waiting lists will grow longer,” Mr Doran told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

He said every day for the last year hospitals had been effectively operating at full-capacity and this deal would require them to manage their elective workload.

Mr Doran said nurses believed the Irish health service required an additional 1,000 beds but said the issue of opening extra wards was not discussed during talks on the proposed

INMO members will be balloted on the proposals before January 5th. This is to allow seven days notice for industrial action on January 12th and 26th, which will proceed if the agreement is rejected by nurses.

The deal agreed at the Workplace Relations Commission involves a series of new incentives to recruit and retain nurses in emergency departments as well as revised internal arrangements for tackling overcrowding in hospitals.

Nurses taking up posts will be offered a €1,500 education bursary after 12 months.

A relocation package worth a similar amount, announced a number of months, will continue.

Controversially the deal contains provision for nurses in emergency units to get two additional leave days in 2016 and 2017 in lieu of meal breaks not taken.

Mr Doran said this aspect of the deal was to recompense staff for meal breaks not taken.

There will also be about 150 promotional posts - to clinical nurse manager grade 1 - created.

Staff will also be appointed to higher clinical nurse manager grade II posts to look after patients who are waiting in trolleys for a hospital bed.

There is also to be a very short process to be completed by next week to look at pay for student nurses on placement in hospitals as well as on incremental credits to be awarded for staff who worked abroad.

An assessment of safe staffing levels in emergency departments is to be completed by next March.

The HSE has declined to state the cost of the new deal in which nurses will ballot in the coming weeks.

A second day of strike action in hospital emergency departments is still scheduled to take place in January.