A Cork hospital consultant has warned that Wednesday's strike action by healthcare staff will lead to delays in Emergency Departments in Cork and across the country.
More than 1,000 healthcare workers across Cork will enter a 24-hour strike this morning and both the HSE and South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) expect a significant impact on services and patients in the region and across the country.
The action comes as more than 7,000 staff, including healthcare assistants, hospital chefs and other health service support staff, across Ireland seek pay increases of about €21 million.
The strikes were initially scheduled for last Thursday but were deferred to allow for talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
However, talks were unsuccessful and thousands of healthcare workers across Cork and Ireland ceased work for 24 hours today.
Dr Conor Deasy, consultant at Cork University Hospital, said it is very important that people understand there will be delays in EDs as a result of the strike action.
“We rely on porters to bring patients to x rays, scans and wards amongst other things; we rely on healthcare assistants to help feed and toilet vulnerable patients who may have delirium or dementia; and we rely on household staff to keep clinical areas clean.
“These staff are on strike,” he added.
Dr Deasy said it is important people are encouraged to seek out care from alternative services such as GPs and private hospitals where possible.
“However, as always, we in EDs will do our very best for those who do attend as an emergency and ask for people to understand they are coming into an industrial action which will inevitably be associated with delays,” he added.
“We need to try and manage demand for 24 hours if at all possible during the strike action.” Hospitals and healthcare services across Cork are bracing themselves for widespread disruption.
Spokespeople for both CUH and the Mercy had warned that any such strike action would lead to reduced staffing which will impact on patient services.
A spokesperson for the SSWHG, which includes Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, and the South Infirmary, said it regrets that industrial action planned by SIPTU which will “impact on patient services across hospitals within the group”.
A spokesperson for the Mercy Hospital meanwhile, said the hospital was working with SIPTU and the HSE to ensure emergency cover arrangements are in place.
“Services will be operational but restricted for the 24 hour work stoppage.
“Patient safety remains our priority and the focus of the hospital is to maximise all available resources to meet the highest priority needs,” he added.
“There will be significantly reduced staffing across the hospital in the areas of catering, Health Care Assistants (HCAs) and portering for the duration of the 24 hour work stoppage.”