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Nurses call off strike action over trolley wait crisis

Published 11/01/2016

The Beaumont Hospital in Dublin is among those affected
The Beaumont Hospital in Dublin is among those affected

Nurses have called off strikes planned for seven hospital emergency departments.

After securing new assurances on escalating the responses to overcrowding crises, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said Thursday's threatened walk-outs were being deferred.

The breakthrough was reached as the latest reports revealed 434 people were lying on trolleys or sitting on chairs waiting for a bed on a hospital ward.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he hoped the increased oversight of responses to overcrowding issues would lead to more trust between the front-line nurses and the hospital managers.

"The interests of patients are always best served through negotiation and by avoiding industrial action. I particularly welcome the fact that the proposals contain specific measures to enhance patient safety and delivery of care," he said.

"I hope that emergency department nurses will regard the proposals as sufficiently detailed and robust to address their concerns around activation of the escalation policy, health and safety concerns and implementation of the agreement itself.

"In particular, I expect that a deeper level of trust will develop between hospital management and nursing staff through the active implementation and monitoring of the proposals."

The deal was secured after marathon talks at the Workplace Relations Commission over the weekend when the INMO secured more assurances on how management response to overcrowding in emergency departments could be monitored and analysed.

Nurses rejected original proposals to combat the ongoing crisis and threatened rolling walk outs across seven hospitals this Thursday.

The deferral was announced after the latest trolley watch report from the INMO showed the most overcrowded emergency department in the country this morning was Our Lady Of Lourdes in Drogheda where 42 people are on trolleys or chairs.

Other hospitals with more than 30 people waiting for space on a ward were Beaumont and St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.

Caoimhghin O Caolain, Sinn Fein health spokesman, said: "I commend the nurses' union for their work on this issue.

"It should be remembered that this was a last resort effort by the nurses to get the Government to deal with the issue of overcrowding and under-staffing in our emergency departments."

Nurses will vote over the next three weeks on whether to accept the proposals which include senior management weekly meetings.

There is also a recognition in the proposals that overcrowding increases health and safety risks for nurses.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said: "The revised proposals, from the Workplace Relations Commission, confirm that the concerns of our members, in rejecting the earlier measures, were centred on patient safety, reducing risk and ensuring implementation of the measures necessary to reduce ED overcrowding.

"It is now imperative that the HSE, at national level, and at senior level within all hospital groups, immediately commits to fully operate the revised proposals.

"This now involves meeting with our members, on a weekly basis, demonstrating that their priority is reducing overcrowding and ensuring nurses can practice safely within a manageable working environment."

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