Ward action threat by Cork nurses

Ward action threat by Cork nurses
Pic Denis Scannell

Nurses and midwives have threatened possible industrial action in the region unless issues at Cork University Hospital are addressed.

Last week, conditions for both patients and staff at CUH were described as intolerable and unsafe amid record overcrowding and capacity concerns.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has sought engagement with HSE management to discuss the issues and has warned it could curtail services unless urgent action is taken to address issues at Cork University Hospital and across services in the region.

The union said Cork health services have been plunged into a crisis due to record overcrowding, hundreds of vacant frontline positions including in nursing, and chronic recruitment and retention issues.

“There will need to be measures put in place to address overcrowding and shortages,” said INMO industrial relations officer for Cork, Liam Conway.

“Otherwise or members will have to consider alternative action such as industrial action,” he warned.

“This would be extremely regrettable and we hope that common sense prevails and urgent measures are put in place to protect our members and the patients they care for by increasing bed capacity and lifting the controls nationally for local recruitment.”

INMO members went on strike in January this year with thousands of patients impacted as services experienced widespread disruption, It was revealed last week “exceptionally busy” conditions at CUH had caused delays for patients.

Meanwhile, last month saw more than 1,000 patients waiting on trolleys or wards for a bed at the hospital. Mr Conway said the conditions for patients and staff in CUH are intolerable and unsafe. He added the health service cannot enter the autumn/winter period with no plan in place to address this.

Consultant at CUH Emergency Department, Dr Conor Deasy recently said the death toll from overcrowding in Irish hospitals is more than 300 a year. It was also revealed in recent weeks that emergency measures usually used as a ‘last resort’ to deal with ED overcrowding were implemented in CUH 137 times this year.

Full Capacity Protocol (FCP) measures see wards taking on extra patients on trolleys to create space in the emergency department and to allow sick patients to be taken off ambulances. The use of FCP means that the hospital has run out of staffed beds due to inadequate capacity and the fact that many hospital beds are taken up by delayed discharges as people await community care.

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