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Industrial Action

Limerick Hospital ICU nurses call for two beds to close until more staff are recruited

The nurses, who are members of the INMO, are now taking work-to-rule industrial action.

NURSES WORKING IN University Hospital Limerick (UHL) ICU are calling for two beds on the ward to be closed by hospital management on a temporary basis until “suitable qualified” nurses can be recruited. 

The nurses, who are members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, are taking part in work-to-rule industrial action, which means that they will only perform duties to the letter of their contract, without taking on additional work. 

The INMO said that this is an unprecedented step for these nurses to take, and that they are doing so over deep concerns about “the potential deviation away from one nurse to one patient care in the ICU”. 

The INMO further stated that staffing in the UHL ICU is currently operating at a 22% deficit, which means that nearly a quarter of the required nurses are not available on the roster. 

Despite this, 100% of the ICU beds on the ward remain open. 

INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty said that regularly, shifts in the ICU are “significantly depleted”, and that this seems likely to continue. 

“The lack of consistent safe staffing in the intensive care unit is having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our members working in this unit and their patients,” she said. 

Fogarty added that the INMO is calling on hospital management to close two of the unit’s beds, until such a time that qualified and experienced nurses are recruited to take up the empty posts in the ICU. 

“Unlike other hospitals experiencing similar nursing deficits, management in Limerick have been unwilling to do this thus far,” she said. 

Fogarty added that INMO members have not taken the decision to begin work-to-rule lightly, but rather they feel like “all other avenues” to resolve the matter have been closed off by hospital management. 

UHL has experienced significant overcrowding this year. 

In January of this year a “major internal incident” was announced as the hospital became overwhelmed with patient numbers. 

The downgrading of Ennis Hospital, as well as other smaller hospitals in the surrounding areas, has been pointed to by health campaigners and doctors as the key reason for the overcrowding. 

The emergency departments in these hospitals were closed over a decade ago, when the UHL emergency department was expanded. 

A pilot project to alleviate the impact of overcrowding at UHL was launched in January, which saw patients in the midwest being taken directly to Ennis Hospital rather than waiting on a trolley. 

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