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Nurses ‘must be shown respect’

Wednesday, 12th September, 2018 5:00pm

Nurses and midwives in Cork have called for action over what they say are “unacceptable” conditions for hospital staff.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) turned out in Cork, Galway and Limerick this week after it was revealed that the HSE does not have a plan to recruit extra staff to cope with increased winter demand for services. Workers are also protesting for better pay and conditions for hospital staff.

Figures from the INMO on Tuesday showed CUH at the top of the trolley figures list, with 52 people waiting, followed by 48 in Limerick. The current results show the nationwide figure at 413, a five per cent increase on this day last year.

Cork protestor Eileen O’Keeffe, a Dementia Community Advisor at St Luke’s Home, called the current working conditions “unacceptable” and said Ireland was losing nurses to other countries with better pay and conditions.

“Our graduates are going to other countries, where they’ll have higher wages, a shorter working week, a more supportive career structure. At the end of the day, there’s better job satisfaction elsewhere,” she said. “It’s a very interesting and challenging profession but the support needs to be there and nurses must be shown respect now.”

Sunita Corcoran, a nurse at Lota Brothers of Charity, said the lack of planning for winter illnesses was worrying: “The slightest thing could throw our system, like the winter vomiting bug. If nurses get it, they’re out sick, and there’s no one to fill their places. There needs to be a plan for now.

“At the moment the hospital is not a safe place to be, as patients can’t always get the care they need. The more staff are overstretched and stressed, the more likely they are to make mistakes.”

Liam Conway, Industrial Relations Officer for the INMO in Cork, added that members in Cork were frustrated and that the current situation was “unsustainable”.

Talks between the INMO and the HSE at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) broke down last week, and workers at a special delegate conference by the INMO in Dublin on 26 September could decide to go on strike if the issues are not resolved.

Sinn Féin Cork South-Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who attended Tuesday’s protests outside CUH, said: “Practically everything has been tried other than addressing the issues of pay, and I don’t think the Government can ignore it any longer.

“They need to invest in public services, and part of that is paying our nurses what they deserve.

“With the possibility of industrial action, I hope there will be productive engagement that will lead to some progress,” he concluded.

A statement from the South/South West Hospital Group said it was continuing to implement measures to manage the high level of attendances including transfer of patients to community care services or extra beds on wards, communication with GPs and consultants carrying out extra ward rounds.

“In the interim, management at the hospital is asking the public to think about all their care and treatment options and keep the emergency department services for the patients who need them most,” the statement said.

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