Talks aimed at averting nurses strike expected to continue until late tonight

Nurses have said they will down tools this coming Thursday in protest at continued overcrowding in emergency departments

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Updated 19.25:

Nurses unions says talks aimed at averting strike action are expected to continue until late tonight.

A spokesperson from he INMO says progress is slow at this evenings talks with the HSE.

The talks between the HSE and the INMO are got underway again today at the Workplace Relations Commission after they were adjourned yesterday evening.

The negotiations are aimed at avoiding strike action by nurses at seven major hospitals next Thursday.

Nurses have said they will down tools in protest over the conditions in emergency departments and the high number of patients waiting on trolleys.

Talks were adjourned for the night at around 6 PM last night and are getting back underway this morning - with participating parties saying they'll continue into the night if necessary.

INMO spokesperson Dave Hughes says he expects today's meeting to be lengthy. He adds that emergency department nurses will take a lot of convincing "that things will be radically transformed away from the current disaster situation".

If the action goes ahead seven hospitals will be affected this coming Thursday, January 14th - Beaumont, Cavan, Mercy Hospital Cork, Galway, Tallaght, Tullamore and Waterford.

Yesterday, the Irish Patients Association raised concerns about the impact planned strike action will have on patients.

Earlier this week the General Secretary of the INMO, Liam Doran, said he does not know if the strike can be avoided.

However, he added that conditions in emergency departments this weekend will play a part in the final decision.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Health has moved to defend the Government's attempts at solving the trolley crisis.

Minister Leo Varadkar admits the situation is indefensible - but says the Government has tried tackling it in four ways: