Ballots for industrial action have been sanctioned for nurses amid claims of unsafe staffing levels.
The Executive Council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has completed a month-long consultation on staffing levels in acute hospitals and Deputy General Secretary Edward Matthews said the situation is “extremely bleak”.
“We’ve been faced with nurses telling us they’re working on rosters between 30 and 70% short,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“They’re losing skilled nurses - they have very junior nurses dealing with very complex care and they’re afraid and exhausted going home from work.
“The safety of the situation is just untenable at the moment - it’s so unsafe.
“What they need are realistic plans to provide safe staffing levels, skills mix and a safe working environment.
“We’ve been to the HSE, we’ve been to the Department of Health, we’ve been to the Houses of the Oireachtas, we’ve been to the Health and Safety Authority and still we cannot get a funded workforce plan to show us how we’re going to provide safety.”
Mr Matthews said nurses “want to avoid” industrial action but could strike in the worst affected areas if the HSE does not present them with a plan to ameliorate the situation.
“What we want is for people to consider realistic plans, where there’s a realistic workload matching with a realistic staffing level,” he said.
“These people are going to work and they’re genuinely home afraid of what they’ve left undone at night.”
He also rejected the idea of national-wide industrial action.
“We’re targeting the areas that are in dire need,” he said.
“Where we have seen people say to us that their roster is 70% short, that very junior nurses are caring for people with very complex care needs and that the situation is untenable from the point of view of their safety… We’re looking at those areas first.”
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Main image: A nurse looking stressed while sitting on a staircase. Picture by: Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo