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HSE warns of 'significant impact' on services during support staff strike

A strike by 10,000 healthcare workers is set to take place on Thursday.

Image: Shutterstock/Phasut Waraphisit

THE HSE HAS warned that this week’s planned strike action by support staff will have a “significant impact” on services.

It’s now putting in place contingency plans after talks between the health service and trade union representatives ended without agreement last night. The strike is set to take place on Thursday. 

The strike is set to take place after talks between the trade union Siptu and the health service at the Workplace Relations Commission failed to produce an agreement. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the HSE said: “While every effort will be made to minimise impact on patients, industrial action involving these essential staff will have a significant impact on services.”

The spokesperson said that efforts were being made to avoid strike action but contingency planning was taking place with Siptu. Nationally, the HSE said it will co-ordinate efforts on Thursday from the emergency management centre at St Mary’s Hospital, Dublin. 

“This is to ensure as little disruption as possible to patient services. It is also to ensure patient dignity and essential daily care remain in place,” the spokesperson said. 

“The HSE remains committed to early resolution of the strike action. This is important given the number of staffing groups involved and the impact on patients in our acute and community services,” the spokesperson added. 

Patients will be contacted by their local hospital or healthcare service if a scheduled procedure or service has been impacted by the dispute, the HSE spokesperson said. 

The industrial action is planned to take place at 38 hospitals and healthcare facilities and will see 10,000 healthcare workers take part.

The industrial action will involve Siptu members working in portering, household and catering services as well as employed as health care assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, chefs and surgical instrument technicians.

At the start of June Siptu served notice of a 24-hour strike by healthcare workers on Thursday at 38 hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country.  Talks had been taking place at the WRC in a bid to avoid strike action.

Concerns had already been expressed about the impact the strike would have on patients.  The dispute centres around whether health service employees are due a pay rise under the terms of a job evaluation scheme. 

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Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Siptu Health Division spokesperson, Paul Bell, said strike action was “regrettable” and that the union had tried to engage in talks with the HSE.

“Siptu is a responsible trade union. We have tried to process this dispute in the normal way by trying to engage and trying to resolve and come to a conclusion,” he said. 

Bell said it was unclear what the level of impact on patients would be. 

In a statement, Sinn Féin’s deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform Jonathan O’Brien criticised the government’s “failure” to come to an agreement with health service staff. 

“Before the nurses’ strike action earlier this year, the Government repeatedly stated that the public service pay agreement was paramount. If that agreement is to retain any credibility, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform must provide the funding to honour the agreement that was reached with health sector support staff,” O’Brien said.   

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