NURSES have returned to the picket lines less than 24 hours after doctors travelled to Dublin to take part in a protest outside the Dáil to highlight poor conditions in general practice.
The crisis in the health services is deepening, with no sign of an end to the bitter industrial dispute between nurses and the government.
Once again, all outpatient, inpatient and day surgery appointments have been cancelled.
The strike, over pay and patient safety, has also hit respite and rehabilitation units for the elderly or those with an intellectual disability.
Three further consecutive strike days are scheduled for next week and members of Fine Gael have already voiced concerns that the dispute could see the party take a hammering at the local elections in May. Yesterday, hundreds of GPs staged a protest outside the Dáil over conditions in general practice.
Cork GPs claim the sector is in dire need of reform.
GPs are angry over pay cuts, SouthDoc pressure, while an increase in free attendances for U6s has seen the general practice sector come under increasing pressure in recent months.
President of the NAGP, Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail told the Echo that SouthDoc is a major pressure point.
“The GP out of hours service is the most crucial pressure point we have at the moment,” he said.
“There are huge problems across Ireland, particularly with SouthDoc. It’s understood a number of Fine Gael Oireachtas members fear party candidates will get hammered in the local elections in May because of the crisis in health.
Solidarity Party TD Mick Barry said: “On the doorsteps, Fine Gael are beginning to get the blame for forcing the nurses out on strike. This mood is likely to grow as the strike escalates. Fine Gael will never win a battle with the nurses in the court of public opinion.”