New Government talks with INMO will attempt to avert strike

The INMO expects next week's strikes to go ahead

Newstalk, INMO, Executive, strike action, industrial action, Beaumont hospital, HSE, Health Service Executive, Liam Doran

Photo: Helen Vaughan

The Health Minister says his Department will hold new talks with the INMO and HSE to try and avert next week's strike.

Leo Varadkar says the strike will put patient safety at risk, and the numbers on trolleys are down compared to last year.

The INMO has named the seven hospitals which will be affected by the rolling two-hour stoppages next Thursday.

They are Beaumont, Cavan, Mercy Hospital Cork, Galway, Tallaght, Tullamore and Waterford.

The health minister says more hospital beds will be made available as soon as the staff can be hired to cope with them: 

The Tánaiste Joan Burton says it is up to the managers of local hospitals to make sure that beds which are currently closed are made available to patients who need them.

But she says Minister Varadkar will work to managers to make sure they can accept as many patients as possible.

Ms Burton says both the Health Service Executive (HSE) and nurses will need to show leadership if they are to have faith in measures to ease the crisis.

The planned strike comes after nurses rejected proposals by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to help address overcrowding.

Nurses say they have no confidence in the HSE, who they say failed to plan for the inevitable post-Christmas rush.

This emergency department nurse says that the conditions in Beaumont Hospital are awful.

Meanwhile Varadkar has announced a review of nine hospital Emergency Departments running a trial of new procedures to ease overcrowding.

The Special Delivery Unit will examine the performance of nine hospitals which were due to implement the proposals over Christmas.

The INMO says the proposals were rejected by members because they didn't trust hospital managers to make sure they were implemented.

Health minister Leo Varadkar says he's keen to make sure the policies are actually being implemented in every hospital:

Sinn Féin is demanding that Varadkar resign over what the party says is the "national scandal" of our health service.

Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty says the coalition has no plan now to fix this and that won't change after the election: 

Under 6s

Earlier, a leading consultant in emergency medicine in Cork says the free GP care scheme for children under six has led to a 30-50% increase in the number of children in emergency departments in the county.

Dr Chris Luke of Mercy Hospital Cork told Newstalk Breakfast that inundated GPs are referring more children to hospitals.

"If you invite under 6s into the health service they will come. It's the old, if you build it they will come. We have seen in the last 15 years that the more healthcare facilities that you build, the more people will avail of them but it doesn't seem to help the problem at the heart of the service. It doesn't matter how much more healthcare services you provide, the work is kind of like a gas, it keeps expanding."

The Irish Patients Association likened overcrowded hospitals like Beaumont to a warzone.

Director Steven McMahon told Newstalk Breakfast the situation is getting worse.

"Clearly when you see the numbers that were on trolleys at Beaumont Hospital yesterday, it would be akin to a warzone. The crisis has been continuing on right through last year into this year and it does appear that we are not really getting the bang for our buck that we expected. As far as I am aware, of the 300 beds that are due, I think 200 of them are online at the moment". 

John O'Donnell is lead consultant in emergency medicine at University Hospital Galway, where some elderly patients have been waiting for over 40 hours on trolleys.

"We have seven patients here now who are greater than 24 hours waiting... I mean it's awful awful for the patients, who are not well, but it is also very difficult for the staff who want to get on with what they are supposed to do, which is see the patients".