NURSES in multiple Emergency Departments have balloted for industrial action involving a ‘work to rule’.
The action is being taken in protest at overcrowding specifically in Emergency Departments up and down the country.
In early January figures for patients deemed to be in need of admission but who, due to lack of beds, were languishing on trolleys and chairs in Emergency Departments were at an all time high reaching 601 at its peak.
While the crisis since eased somewhat it remains at crisis level of 442 on January 21st at time of writing.
The Croke Park Deal of 2010 followed by ‘The Haddington Road Agreement 2013’ imposed on a Health Service already in serious crisis further bed reductions, a staff moratorium and massive reductions in health spending. In consequence we have lost a further more than 2,000 beds; 5,000 nursing posts and endured about a 20% cut in the overall Health Budget.
On top of this ‘The Fair Deal Scheme’ has been capped making it more difficult to access ensuring even longer delays in getting elderly patients out of acute beds into nursing home beds. This has resulted in the extraordinary but entirely predictable levels of overcrowding and trolley waits in ED right around the country.
This is the context in which nurses in so many Emergency Departments in January have balloted for industrial action .
Ann Burke, INMO Executive member and nurse manager in Galway University Hospital, one of the hospitals taking this action explained the decision saying “The conditions in the Emergency Department for both staff and patients have reached an intolerable and grossly unsafe state. It is no longer possible to provide professional and high standards of care to vulnerable patients in such unsafe, understaffed and immoral conditions”
Nurses are to be congratulated on taking a stand on this issue.
They should be supported by all who work in the HSE, the whole trade union movement and the general public.
In defending their patients and their working conditions they are standing up for all of us except the super rich who can always make their own private arrangements when it comes to health care and highlighting yet another reason to get rid of this rotten government.