• Patient care will be compromised and undermined as a result
• HSE refuses to accept professional judgement of experienced nurses
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) condemns a plan by the HSE to admit patients to Virginia Community Nursing Unit in Cavan without adequate staff. The INMO has objected in the strongest possible terms to this irresponsible proposal and members have voted 100% in favour of industrial action including lunch-time protests, work to rule and withdrawal of labour to protect patient care.
The INMO has sought assurances from the HSE that no patient would be admitted until staffing for the 56 beds is agreed and additional staff are recruited. However, the HSE indicated that they would commence admitting patients to Virginia CNU this week. The INMO sought the urgent intervention of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
A hearing was held today with no agreement reached and the INMO has requested that the issue now be referred to the Labour Court on our claim for safe staffing for these vulnerable patients. The INMO advised the HSE today that its members will not be cooperating with the opening of additional beds as to do so, without adequate staff, will compromise patient care and is against the professional judgement of registered nurses with expertise and experience in this area of care.
The HSE’s attempt at unilateral action is also contrary to a long standing agreement, reached at the WRC, that beds would only be opened in the context of safe staffing levels.
The HSE announced this afternoon that they would move some patients into the Unit tomorrow, Wednesday, January 11. In the absence of adequate staffing levels this amounts to an irresponsible act which has the potential to damage the health and well-being of these patients.
The Unit currently has 26 beds with a potential capacity for a further 30. However, the HSE has failed to recruit additional staff to open these beds and is now attempting to do so in a manner which must be deemed unsafe and without precedent.
The INMO has also written to HIQA seeking that they examine the matter immediately to ensure that patients are protected and the INMO has also called for an independent staffing review.
Speaking this evening, INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Tony Fitzpatrick said:
“These plans by the HSE to admit patients in the absence of any staff to care for them are grossly irresponsible and demonstrate a reckless disregard for their well-being. Because of management’s behaviour INMO members were left with no option but to ballot for industrial action. The members have voted 100% in favour of industrial action including lunch-time protests, work to rule and withdrawal of labour.
We are extremely disappointed that the WRC talks broke down this afternoon and that no solutions have been put forward by the HSE. We will now serve notice of industrial action to be commenced at the Unit. We await a date for a hearing in the Labour Court.”
Mr Fitzpatrick concluded:
“In the interests of these vulnerable patients we call upon the HSE to accept the professional judgement of our members and to follow due process before any additional beds can be opened inclusive of the necessary additional staff.”