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The main entrance of Mid Western Regional Hospital James Horan/Photocall Ireland

Nurses ramp up protest with second strike over 'safety risks'

Staff members in Limerick say there is serious overcrowding, and €13million in funding is missing from the hospital budget.

NURSES AT A Limerick hospital are set to launch a second four-hour strike over what they say are serious risks to patients.

On Wednesday, nurses in the emergency department of the Mid Western Regional Hospital held a work stoppage in protest at overcrowding and funding shortages.

However, a representative today told that there had been “no progress” on their concerns, and another industrial action would take place next Wednesday. Mary Fogarty, a spokesperson for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation which is fronting the protests, said:

On a continuous basis, the emergency department and wards are overcrowded. There isn’t the approved ratio of nurses to admitted patients, and there are clinical risks which need to be addressed.

She said the nurses had hoped for an intervention from Minister for Health James Reilly after their first protest, but none had been forthcoming. Ms Fogarty said one cause of the problem was that €13million in funding was “missing” from the hospital’s budget, after not being transferred when health services in the region were reorganised.

“When Ennis and Nenagh hospitals closed some services, the money should have transferred to Limerick,” she said. “We understand that it didn’t.” She added another problem was that the previous minister for health, Mary Harney, had employed additional consultants but not provided the funds to pay them. “That money is now coming out of nurses’ budgets,” she said.

When asked whether the HSE would like to respond to the nurses’ concerns, a spokesperson said: “No, not at present.”

In a separate development, nurses at Galway University Hospital yesterday said conditions for patients were “intolerable”. The INMO said 38 patients were on trolleys in the emergency department, eight of whom had been waiting for three days. One 78-year-old patient has spent the last four nights on a trolley, the nurses said.

Read more: Limerick A&E nurses begin strike>

Read more: HSE appeals to Limerick nurses to call off strike>

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