Nurses protest at Letterkenny Hospital
Close to 200 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation protested outside the gates of Letterkenny General Hospital yesterday as part of a national campaign of action to reverse pay cuts to trainee nurses and midwives.
Claiming that the cuts were in breach of the Croke Park Agreement, INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Noel Treanor, who attended the lunchtime protest, said they were encouraged by the turnout which is the forerunner for a series of such actions.
"The vast majority of those involved are trainee nurses who are going to be seriously affected and have already been so."
The Government had decided, without consulation say the Union, to phase out the pay to working 4th year pre-registration nurses and midwives who replaced paid qualified staff on wards for the final nine months of their degree programme.
"We got a very good reception from people going in and out of the hospital. I think they were glad to see a protest of this nature so that the issues surrounding the health services can continue to be highlighted," said Mr. Treanor.
One of the trainee nurses who took part in yesterday's protest, Cait McGinnity told Highland Radio that they could already see the effects of the cuts. "We are relied on because staffing levels are so low." she insisted.
Commented Mr. Treanor: "She's a first year trainee student - by the time she's on rostered placement in Letterkenny General Hospital, what she'll be getting will be less than the minimal wage."
The INMO representative maintained that pay would be phased out over the next four years with student nurses eventually expected to work full-time on wards, providing direct patient care, for no wage.
A protest march and rally is being organised for Dublin next Wednesday to continue the campaign. Marchers will assemble at Parnell Square at 11.30am before proceeding to the Department of Health where a letter will be handed in calling on the incoming Minister to reverse the decision.
Should there be no resolution, the INMO will ballot all 4th year pre-registration nurses and midwives with a view to a withdrawal of labour early next month.