07 January 2016
Attention Emergency Department Members
Today nurse representatives from a majority of Emergency Departments attended a national meeting at the INMO Head Quarters. Some additional representatives who could not travel to the meeting attended by conference call. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the next steps of the ED Campaign in light of the rejection of the proposals which had emerged from the Workplace Relations Commission engagement, prior to Christmas.
The meeting was called against the backdrop of an Executive Council decision to proceed with the planned strike action in seven hospitals on Thursday, 14th of January. The Executive Council have also decided that there will be further strike action in the other hospitals on two subsequent dates, the first of those being the 26th of January next.
Representatives from all of the Emergency Departments in attendance spoke at the meeting and, from their contributions, it emerged by consensus that the key reasons behind the rejection relate to a massive lack of confidence that management will deliver on the agreed measures, under the Workplace Relations Commission document, particularly in relation to the provision of adequate staffing and implementation of the nationally agreed Escalation Policy for EDs. Additionally, representatives were adamant that a high level of fear exists among ED nurses with respect to their ability to deliver safe care and, as a consequence, the potential threat to their registration as nurses. In a number of the departments representatives reported that Trolley Watch figures are being manipulated and constantly reflect a lower number of admitted patients waiting in departments than are actually present.
It is abundantly clear, at this point, that nurses working in Emergency Departments require tangible evidence that a whole hospital response is being initiated to deal with the current levels of overcrowding leading to a demonstrable reduction in admitted patients awaiting a hospital bed and a ward adequately staffed to meet the needs of those patients. The INMO Executive confirmed that the organisation’s policy is one of total opposition to the continuous use of full escalation and the placing of additional beds on wards throughout hospitals. Representatives in hospitals, where this is already happening, confirmed that the constant use of Full Capacity Protocol has not, in any way, assisted in reducing the level of overcrowding in their particular Emergency Departments.
Ultimately the meeting agreed, by consensus, that the organisation should be mandated to build upon the proposals already made by seeking to strengthen its provisions on delivery of those proposals. The organisation is now mandated to seek a range of specific urgent confidence building inputs from the most senior level within the Hospital Groups, through engagement with representatives of each Emergency Department. The organisation is also mandated to seek protection aimed at reducing the risk to registration posed by current levels of overcrowding. The trust issues raised at the meeting will also be part of the agenda to be addressed with the HSE management at national and local level.
The meeting confirmed and endorses the Executive Council’s decision to proceed with the strike action in the following venues at the following times.
It was agreed that there will be further engagement at national level with regard to contingency planning to deal with the unacceptable position adopted by the National Ambulance Service with regard to hospital bypass and that contingency planning, at local level, will be engaged in consistent with the plans which had originally been developed had the dispute planned for December 15th proceeded. In this regard it was emphasised that the importance of receiving the roster of medical staff who are to take the handover and control of each department, for the duration of the two hour dispute, would be known to the strike committee well in advance.
The following representatives have agreed to be the national group for discussions/liaison in the event of any engagement over the coming days or the duration of the dispute.
Additionally, the following eight people have agreed to act as alternatives should one or more of the principal five representatives be unavailable to attend a particular meeting.
Finally, the current level of overcrowding in Emergency Departments and across hospital wards is absolutely unacceptable and it must be addressed. It is most unfortunate that the build-up has been allowed in the first weekend of the year, which was highly predictable and could and should have been planned for and prevented. We are aware that the taking of strike action is a last resort from a group of extremely loyal and diligent INMO members who have given all they can to provide safe care in the worst of circumstances. We will endeavour to have the HSE management, at all levels, address the very serious concerns which have emerged from this meeting, but we do not underestimate the monumental efforts required on behalf of management to achieve a level of confidence which would prevent the necessity to engage in strike action. In spite of that every effort will be made over the coming days to further advance the desire of Emergency Department nurses’ to provide safe care in safe surroundings with adequate numbers for patients attending hospital through Emergency Departments.
We will keep you informed on any developments.