Press Release, 24 November 2015
92% vote for action
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), working in all of the country’s Emergency Departments, have voted, overwhelmingly, for a campaign of industrial action, including strike action, in protest at continuing overcrowding, inadequate staffing levels and the ongoing compromising of patient care.
In the recent ballot over 92% of members voted in favour of taking industrial action, involving the withdrawal of labour, saying they have simply had enough of broken promises.
The INMO is, today, serving formal notice, on the HSE and all relevant health service employers, that the campaign of industrial action, which will involve strike action, will commence on Tuesday, 15th December 2015.
In keeping with the agreed health service protocol the INMO is providing three weeks’ notice and will be indicating its availability to agree contingency measures.
However the INMO Executive Council has ratified a campaign as follows:
• this will be a national campaign involving all of the country’s Emergency Departments;
• each hospital to establish a strike committee immediately;
• strike action, will begin on Tuesday, 15th December 2015, and will initially involve action in a number of Emergency Departments on a simultaneous/rolling basis;
• further days of strike action will take place, involving remaining Emergency Departments, again on a simultaneous/rolling basis, in the New Year; and
• the campaign will, ultimately, involve a nationwide strike involving all of the country’s Emergency Departments.
The exact location and timing of the strike action, on the first day, will be advised to the HSE in our formal notice to them. However the strike action will involve all members, with the exception of a standby emergency response team, requiring the hospital, effectively, to go off emergency call.
This campaign of industrial action, is being taken as a last resort and after 10 years of discussions and broken promises. Our members are particularly frustrated at the daily acceptance, by those in authority, of ED overcrowding and, in many hospitals, ward overcrowding due to extra trolleys.
Against this background the campaign is seeking the following:
• safe, adequate and consistently available, staffing levels (including recruitment and retention initiatives), for all Emergency Departments;
• additional, separate nursing staff, to look after admitted patients who are on trolleys, thus ensuring the ED nursing staff can ensure safe practice in each Emergency Department;
• the designation of all Emergency Departments as specific places of employment, under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, requiring regular inspections to ensure staff’s health and wellbeing; and
• proper, full and 24/7 implementation of agreed escalation policies to minimise overcrowding in both emergency departments and wards.
It is also worth noting that this campaign commences against the background of ED overcrowding being at record levels despite all of the commitments that it would be reduced. The latest figures, up to the end of October 2015, confirm the following:
• in the first 10 months of this year almost 80,000 patients, admitted for care, found themselves on trolleys in Emergency Departments or overcrowded wards;
• in the month of October almost 8,000 patients, admitted for care, were on trolleys in Emergency Departments/overcrowded wards;
Both of these figures represent record levels of overcrowding and confirm that October 2015 was the fifteenth month in a row for overcrowding to increase resulting in care being compromised on an ongoing basis. The situation is therefore getting worse not better.
Speaking this morning INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said:
“This action, which will involve strike action, is being taken, in recognition that overcrowding will continue requiring special, sustained, measures to be introduced, in our Emergency Departments, to safeguard patient care and the health and wellbeing of staff.
This campaign is also necessary as a direct result of the failure, of government and health service management, over many years, to recognise this overcrowding crisis and to allocate the necessary resources to properly address it.
Our members will no longer tolerate having to go to work, every day, and face constant overcrowding where both the care of patients, and the health and wellbeing of staff, is compromised without anyone, in authority, seeming to recognise the consequences.
Members have had enough, we know patients have had enough, and it is now up to government, and management, to address these issues, in dialogue with us, if this campaign of strike action is to be avoided”.