ED nurses to be balloted on industrial action

Nurses working in Emergency Departments (EDs) around the country are to be balloted on industrial action, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has confirmed.

The move is in response to the ‘persistent and deepening levels of overcrowding' in EDs nationwide. This has led to ‘significant risks' for patients and staff, the INMO insisted.

It pointed out that overcrowding is continuing unabated, with last month recording the highest number of patients on trolleys to date.

According to its ‘Trolley Watch' figures, 7,971 patients were left waiting on trolleys for a hospital bed during October. The worst affected hospitals were Beaumont in Dublin (803), University Hospital Limerick (763), Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda (616) and Cork University Hospital (544).

The number of patients waiting on trolleys last month was 14% higher than the same period in 2014 and 53% higher than the same period in 2013.

The INMO figures also revealed that between January and October of this year, 79,457 patients have been left waiting on trolleys, the highest amount ever recorded for this 10-month period.

The worst affected hospitals during this period have been Beaumont in Dublin (7,145), Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda (6,702), University Hospital Limerick (6,293) and University Hospital Galway (5,532).

This figure of almost 80,000 patients on trolleys between January and October is 26% higher than the same period in 2014 and 36% higher than the same period in 2013.

The INMO said that these figures ‘confirm that the measures taken to date have failed to address the problem and ensure that admitted patients can be cared for by adequate numbers of nursing staff in a safe clinical environment, providing dignity and privacy'.

"Our members have had enough and we believe patients have had more than enough. The latest figures confirm the measures taken to date have not, are not and will not, alleviate the problem, leaving patients and staff continually exposed to totally unacceptable care and working environments," commented INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.

Industrial action taken by ED nurses may include a withdrawal of labour, the INMO added. It is set to begin balloting its ED members on November 9.

Responding to the news, the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, said that he was ‘disappointed' with the decision to ballot nurses.

"Industrial action won't get a single patient off a trolley. We have a plan to address ED overcrowding which is currently being implemented and which is supported by the INMO. I ask that all efforts be focused on working together to implement the plan," he said.


[Posted: Wed 04/11/2015]


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