Nurses threaten industrial action over Limerick hospital overcrowding 

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Phil Ni Sheaghdha
INMO secretary general Phil Ni Sheaghdha

WITH 101 patients waiting for beds at University Hospital Limerick this morning, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said that persistent overcrowding is not being taken seriously as a workers’ health issue by the HSE.

Stating that the INMO executive now had no choice but to consult with its members about instigating industrial action, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that fire safety reports were not being adhered to in the Limerick hospital.

“The numbers of patients without a bed in Irish hospitals is completely unacceptable. For there to be 457 patients without a bed on a single day in the middle of June is not something we should accept as a given,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha declared .

“The response thus far from the Health Services Executive and the Health and Safety Authority has been extremely lacking.

“On three occasions, the INMO has requested that the Emergency Department Taskforce meet as a matter of urgency and the response from the HSE has been inadequate.

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“The fact that this important body has not convened in a time period where we have seen more than 3,566 patients on trolleys and a 76 per cent increase in Covid hospitalisations since June 4 is completely inexcusable.

“The Health and Safety Authority must act on the unsafe conditions are members are working in and patients are presenting to. We know that in some hospitals such as University Hospital Limerick that fire safety reports are not being adhered to.

“The dignity of patients is often diminished because of the conditions they are being treated in. Emergency Departments are pressure cooker environments leading to the physical and verbal assault of our members in some instances.

“The HSE has a duty to provide a safe environment for employees and patients and this just is not being adhered to in the vast majority of hospitals.

“Our nurses are at the end of our tether, and they cannot provide the clinical care that is required. They are burnt out both physically and mentally and cannot continue at this pace. The slow reaction and at times hands-off approach from their employer will drive many nurses out of the profession.

“The INMO is of the view that the Emergency Department agreement brokered between the INMO and the HSE is being ignored by the employer leaving nurses exposed to unsafe and high-risk situations.

“We have referred this issue to the Workplace Relations Commission and a date for a hearing is awaited. At this juncture without real focus and input, we will have no other option but to discuss industrial action with our members in emergency departments.