NURSES at St John’s Hospital began a work-to-rule this morning (Thursday) over staff shortages and the strains and extra workload the shortage puts on them.
However, management have pledged that they will will bring in contingency measures and endeavour to keep any disruptions to a minimum where patients are concerned.
The industrial action involves nurses refusing to carry out certain administration duties, putting a cut-off time on operation theatre duties, and not attending meetings other than clinical or meetings with patients’ families among other measures.
The action begins this morning following a breakdown in talks with management on the ongoing staffing problems.
St John’s Hospital is an 89-bed hospital and there are, at present, over 30 nursing vacancies at the city centre campus.
The INMO says the pressure on staff at St John’s is having a significant impact on the safety of patients attending the hospital and their own wellbeing in the workplace.
In a statement, the INMO said the action is not one members in St John’s Hospital wanted to take, but they have been left with no option.
INMO assistant director of industrial relations, Mary Fogarty, said: “The inability of management at St John’s Hospital to recognise the impact substantial nursing vacancies are having on our members and their failure to curtail services to safer limits to match the availability of nurses has compounded the dispute.”
“INMO members want to make it clear to their employer and the HSE that they are not willing to deal with the consequences of allowing short-staffing to persist in their workplace and for it to deteriorate further because of the HSE recruitment freeze. INMO members will only carry out core nursing duties in the hospital at this time”, she added.
In a statement, the executive management of St John’s Hospital said that discussions have taken place over recent weeks between the senior leadership team and the INMO to try and avoid industrial action, without reaching a resolution.
“While this industrial action is a matter of regret, we remain available to engage with the INMO to come to a mutually agreed solution at the earliest possible point. The management team will continue to work with the INMO to resolve the industrial
action as quickly as possible”, the statement read.
The hospital says contingency measures are being implemented while industrial action commences.
“Safe care for our patients is our highest priority and continues to be delivered at St John’s Hospital. We are working with our colleagues in the INMO to ensure that this remains the case. We will endeavour to ensure continued access for patients and minimal disruption to services”, a spokesperson said.
“We wish to reassure members of the public that any patient admitted to our hospital and patients in our care will be cared for in a compassionate and safe manner and that patient needs will remain at the centre of care delivery. We continue to utilise our full bed base at this time and have not curtailed services”.
The hospital says that nursing staff are in high demand globally and that in spite of vacant shifts in the nursing roster in recent months, agreed staffing levels have been supported through the utilisation of agency staff.
“Recruitment of nurses is an international issue and the INMO has acknowledged the efforts made by St John’s Hospital to secure staffing through bespoke national and international recruitment campaigns.
“These campaigns have seen some success in spite of the challenging recruitment environment. St John’s currently have 15 nurses completing compliances with proposed start dates in the coming weeks, which will have a positive impact on nurse vacancies. The consequences of the recent embargo on filling of future vacancies will hinder further recruitment”.