HSE outlines what parts of health service they expect will be affected by nurses' strike

Industrial action by nurses is set to intensify in the weeks ahead as the stalemate continues.

The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation meets tomorrow to discuss further dates beyond those already announced.

There will be further 24-hour strikes on Tuesday and Thursday next week and on the following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The HSE said it regrets the industrial action and has apologised to patients and their family members who may be affected.

In a statement, they said: "The HSE remains available to engage in any efforts to avert this action.

"We are continuing to engage with the INMO to put in place arrangements for the safe provision of services, in particular, in the area of urgent care and cancer services. Where procedures go ahead, hospitals will make direct contact with patients to inform them.

"At this stage, the HSE expects that all outpatient, inpatient and day surgery appointments will be cancelled. We expect Injury Units to be closed. We expect routine community nursing services and health centre nurse clinics to be cancelled. Public day centres and day hospitals for older people or people with disabilities will close.

"All planned admissions, including respite and rehabilitation, to public community nursing units and specified centres for people with intellectual disability will be cancelled.

"The HSE would advise that people only attend emergency services if absolutely essential."

They will provide updated information on patient services on their website hse.ie and social media over the coming days.

INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said the executive council wants to plan ahead because the Government has not made any serious proposals.

Hospital and community care services across the country were severely disrupted by the first 24-hour strike by nurses on Wednesday.

Ms Ní Sheathdha, who was speaking on RTÉ radio, said the INMO is meeting with the HSE every day but wants to start planning for the weeks beyond so the health authority can make preparations.

Last Wednesday 25,000 medical appointments for surgeries, outpatients and community care were cancelled because of the 24-hour strike by nurses.

HSE national contingency co-ordinator, Bernard Gloster, said it is difficult to estimate how many more patients will be affected by the strikes because of their “compound interest” effect on services.

He said the HSE is doing everything to mitigate the impact on the public but the level of disruption already experienced is likely to continue into next week and be felt for some time to come unless the substantive matters are resolved.

The INMO is seeking to secure pay parity with other graduate entry healthcare staff, such as radiographers and physiotherapists.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the purpose of the negotiations should be to address the pay inequality and it can be done within the public service agreement.

Meanwhile, some 6,000 members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association continued their two-day overtime ban today.

The PNA tweeted today that their action again shows the extent of understaffing across the mental health services with problems in Galway, St Ita's Hospital, Portrane, Co Dublin and elsewhere.

Community services were closed and there was “huge” redeployment of management to fill gaps.

Members will not be available to work overtime on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week and will strike on the following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday if the dispute over recruitment and retention of nurses is not settled by then.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 admitted patients were waiting for a hospital bed in hospitals last month, according to figures compiled by the INMO. Among the 10,350 patients were 190 children.

However, the monthly figure is not as bad as the record high of 12,201 waiting on trolleys in emergency departments or on additional beds placed throughout hospitals in January last year.

The worst affected hospitals last month were University Hospital Limerick which had 970 patients waiting; Cork University Hospital which had 947 and South Tipperary General Hospital which had 629.

Ms Ní Sheaghdh blames understaffing for the continuing problem of hospital overcrowding.

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