The Executive Council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has sanctioned the beginning of a consultation with nurses on a campaign of industrial action.
It follows an emergency meeting that was held on Friday by the Executive Council concerning HSE action in relation to the current hospital overcrowding crisis.
Hospitals in Cork continue to experience significant pressures as overcrowding is being driven by a rise in respiratory infections, including Covid-19 and influenza.
On Thursday, Cork University Hospital (CUH) said it is experiencing unprecedented levels of demand for services with such demands currently exceeding the hospital’s capacity.
A spokesperson said that in order to balance risk across the hospital and system “patients may be cared for in corridors or in ward areas for a short period with close monitoring and ongoing risk assessments”.
Following the INMO meeting on Friday, General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “The Executive Council of the INMO, made up of working nurses and midwives, have today [Friday] taken the decision to begin a period of consultation on a campaign of industrial action in pursuance of safe staffing levels that are underpinned with legislation and clinical facilitation in all hospitals to ensure a safe skills mix.
What has transpired this week in our hospitals was totally avoidable. For too long nurses and midwives have been warning that we were going to see an overcrowding blackspot in January unless serious and meaningful action was taken.
“While many will try to laud the fact that we have seen a decrease of patients on trolleys from 931 to 535, we won’t be part of attempts to justify this as an improvement.
“Nurses and midwives expect and deserve to work in a safe practice environment in which they can deliver the safe and excellent care they are trained to provide.”
INMO President Karen McGowan said nurses and midwives are being asked to crisis manage a situation that is of their employers’ own making.
“We know that levels of burnout are at an all-time high. We must now take whatever action is deemed necessary to ensure that we do not endure this level of danger in our workplaces in the coming months and years ahead on a continuous replay mode.
“We will now commence a series of information and consultation meetings with members over the next month,” he said.