by Alan Jacques
A MOTION supporting the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in their planned industrial action at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) received the unanimous backing of Limerick City and County Council members on Monday.
Proposing the motion, Sinn Féin councillor Malachy McCreesh said it was important a message is sent “loud and clear” to the Government that the working conditions experienced by healthcare professionals at the UHL emergency department were totally unacceptable.
“All of Limerick and its surrounding areas are affected by the daily crisis at the hospital. Bed closures due to staff shortages, coupled with an outdated and cramped working environment are the root causes of the problem. The risk to patients is clear and the situation is now at a critical state,” said Cllr McCreesh.
According to the Sinn Féin politician, the recent call by the INMO for the immediate recruitment of nurses nationwide should be acknowledged immediately and be treated as a major factor in finding an overall solution.
“Major intervention with regard to staffing and the opening of new wards is essential in the short term and I call again on the Minister of Health to open the new emergency department sooner than 2016,” he told council members.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Sheahan (FF), told Cllr McCreesh that it was honour to second the motion while his party colleague Cllr James Collins proposed that the local authority extend an invitation to the management of UHL to meet with the full council to reveal what the problems are.
“We need to understand fully what the problems are and we need to hear from the people whose job it is to deal with these problems and tell us how to resolve them,” said Cllr Collins.
Sinn Féin councillor for Newcastle West, Seamus Browne, urged councillors not only to show their support to the INMO, but to join them on the day of their industrial action.
Independent councillor for City North, John Gilligan, blamed the HSE cutbacks and the privatisation of health services for the current crisis.
“Nobody’s on a hospital trolley waiting for a bed in the Blackrock Clinic,” he said.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Sheahan, claimed that he had spent a day in Cork University Hospital this week and there was “no sign of a trolley”.
“There’s lots of questions to be answered,” he said.