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"We've had enough": Nurses have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action

The industrial action – including one-day stoppages – will begin in February.

Image: Sam Boal

THE NURSES ARE to strike.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced the result of their nationwide ballot this evening , with 90% of nurses voting in favour of industrial action. The turnout was 62%.

Nurses and midwives say that they are understaffed and overworked, and that these conditions make it impossible to care properly for patients.

“Nurse and midwives have had enough,” Liam Doran of the INMO said this evening. “They will not tolerate indifference [from the Department of Health and HSE] any longer.”

The action will take the form of a series of one day strikes as well as a continuous work-to-rule. The latter will mean nurses will not work any additional hours and will not be redeployed from one ward to another.

The action will begin in early February, the INMO said this evening.

The INMO will now write to the Minister for Health and the head of the HSE asking for immediate round table talks.

Health Minister Simon Harris was criticial of the decision taken by the nurses.

“It will not reduce the numbers of patients on trolleys in Emergency Departments, will not reduce the waiting lists or improve service delivery and could lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries,” he said after the result was announced.

Liam Doran told TheJournal.ie in the lead up to the ballot that the industrial action will prioritise caring for patients instead of administrative duties.

Already there are work to rules in operation in Cork University Hospital’s Radiology Department, and in the maternity ward of Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar.

Doran says that the pressures on nurses are different, because if they make a mistake, they can be reported for malpractice and “that’s it, it’s over”.

‘Eight years of excessive workloads’

Speaking this evening, INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly said she had met with hundreds of nurses in recent weeks and had been “angered and frustrated” at what they have to deal with.

“Members have spoken loudly and clearly and have given us a strong mandate for a campaign of action, if required, to secure special staffing, recruitment and retention initiatives,” she said.

Our members have suffered eight years of staff shortages, excessive workloads and having their voice and professional judgement ignored by the system, which is fixated on budgets and targets and certainly not on patients and quality of care.

Recent talks between the gardaí and government resulted in a better pay deal than the Lansdowne Road Agreement, but the teachers, who went on strike earlier this year, got a slightly better deal than what was originally on offer.

But with a pay out already given to other sectors, and the HSE budget already released, the big question remains whether there is anything left to give.

Read: The HSE will have €14 billion to spend next year – but that may not be enough

Read: ‘Disillusioned and concerned’: Midwives in Mayo to start industrial action over staff shortages

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