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St John's Hospital
Limerick

Nurses at St John's Hospital to take industrial action as HSE maintains recruitment freeze

The INMO says staffing shortages have put “exceptional” levels of pressure on workers.

NURSES AT ST John’s Hospital will begin industrial action tomorrow as staffing shortages have put “exceptional” levels of pressure on workers.

There are currently more than 30 vacancies at the 89-bed hospital in Limerick.

INMO members in the hospital will work to rule, still carrying out core nursing duties.

Meanwhile, The Journal understands that the Health Service Executive has extended its hiring freeze to all areas, with only a few exceptions.

The Oireachtas Committee on Health heard this morning from CEO Bernard Gloster that the HSE will start 2024 with a deficit of hundreds of millions of euro despite a top-up from the government on the figures announced in the Budget in September.

Mary Fogarty, Assistant Director of Industrial Relations for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said that the dispute at St John’s has been compounded by a lack of action on the part of the HSE.

“The pressure [the staffing shortage] is placing on our members is exceptional and they have articulated very clearly to management that it is having a significant impact on the safety of patients attending the hospital and their own well-being in the workplace,” she said.

“INMO members want to make it clear to their employer and the HSE that they are not willing to deal with the consequences of allowing short-staffing to persist in their workplace and for it to deteriorate further because of the HSE recruitment freeze. 

“This is not a decision that INMO members in St. John’s Hospital have taken lightly but because of the staffing restriction they cannot provide safe care therefore they are left with no option but to ensure the nursing care of their patients is prioritised.”

Tasks that nurses in the hospital will not undertake from 8am tomorrow include clerical administration, going to pharmacies to collect medications and attending non-clinical or patient family meetings.

Routine overruns in theatres will also not be staffed by INMO members, and the last patient must be in recovery in the day ward by 3pm and by 4pm in main theatre.

Health budget

Yesterday, the government announced supplementary funding for healthcare of €960 million.

Gloster said the supplementary funding was “very welcome” and would “more or less cash out the year”.

However, there will still be a shortfall of around €500 million carried into next year as a debt. 

“It will be exceptionally challenging,” Gloster told TDs and Senators this morning. “There is no doubt it’s going to be a very challenging year.” 

“Most budget-holding areas have exceeded their targets this year.”

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