Friday 16 November 2018

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Minister welcomes talks with nurses

Wednesday, 7th November, 2018 4:49pm

A meeting between health officials and nurses representatives will be held on Friday in a bid to avoid an all-out nurses’ strike.

Representatives from the HSE and Department of Health will meet with members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in an attempt to avoid a national strike by health workers.

The INMO announced this week that it is to ballot for industrial action after its members voted at a meeting on Monday. Members will now vote in the coming weeks on whether or not to strike, which if passed would see nurses and midwives stop work for 24 hours, providing only essential, life-preserving care and emergency response teams for theatres and emergency departments.

If unresolved, this could escalate to two 24-hour stoppages next week.

A statement from the Department of Health said it welcomed a meeting aimed at avoiding a strike. “Minister Simon Harris is pleased engagement is due to take place between the unions representing nurses and the HSE this week. The Minister urges all sides to engage constructively to prevent industrial action from taking place.”

Prior to the confirmation of the meeting, a spokesperson for the INMO had said: “We’re not putting a number on it, we’re asking the Government to engage with us on this issue and come up with a serious proposal.

“We’re never going to be in a situation where we’re not talking to the Government, we’re willing to talk at any time.”

Last month saw the INMO reject the Government’s pay proposal aimed at addressing staff shortages in the health sector, with 94 per cent of members who voted turning down the offer.

Workers at Cork University Hospital and other hospitals around the country protested in September over the issues, which they claim include understaffing and an inability to attract and retain health workers.

According to the INMO, the HSE says that for every four nursing vacancies, there is only one application.

There are 2,600 fewer nurses working in the Irish public health service today than in 2007, with a fall of 227 staff nurses between December 2017 and September 2018 alone.

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