PATIENTS requiring an ambulance today faced potential disruption as 500 ambulance personnel staged a 10-hour strike.
Transfers and non-emergency ambulance calls were not being answered in many cases after ambulance personnel, belonging to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), staged the industrial action.
Defence Forces medics and Army ambulances were positioned in Collins Barracks in case they were needed during the action.
Towns such as Mallow, Midleton, Youghal, Kanturk, Millstreet, and Clonakilty were expected to be without full ambulance cover. Cork City was down three ambulances.
A spokesperson for the PNA said that this strike is “completely unnecessary” and could have been avoided if the HSE took action.
“It is entirely of the HSE’s own making,” the PNA spokesman said.
“We have made contingency plans and informed the HSE that emergency situations will be dealt with.”
The dispute centres around a union recognition issue.
NASRA is a breakaway union, affiliated to the PNA, which has been trying to negotiate with the HSE on behalf of its members.
The HSE has refused to recognise the union’s negotiating rights for staff it represents, including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
The PNA has said today’s work stoppage is not about pay — it is simply about its members right to be represented by the trade union of their choice.
The strike comes just days after it was revealed six ambulance staff in Cork were reprimanded after telling management they were unable to safely carry out an emergency request to drive to Dublin as they were approaching the end of a 12-hour shift.
Two ambulance workers were suspended, two more were cautioned and two others were spoken to following the incident that saw the emergency request to transfer an infant to Crumlin Hospital passed through three crews.
The incident has caused a wave of anger amongst paramedics in Cork.