Nurses and midwives in Donegal are showing massive resolution in the ongoing strike action, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
Nurses across Donegal are on strike today in what is the third 24-action by the INMO.
The union is in dispute with the HSE over staffing and pay issues and is calling for a 12% pay increase to bring them into line with other health professionals and to attract and retain nurses.
Members of the union are taking part in pickets across Donegal today.
Management at Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) said the emergency department is very busy today and advise that people only attend if absolutely essential.
The HSE said the industrial action is having a significant impact on patient services across all of the hospitals in the Saolta University Health Care Group, including LUH.
Scheduled outpatient, inpatient and day surgery appointments have been cancelled.
“We are continuing to work with the INMO on arrangements for the day to ensure safe service provision,” the HSE said.
The INMO has escalated the action and nurses and midwives will be on strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week and again on February 19 and 21.
Both public health nurses and acute service nurses are on strike at Letterkenny University hospital today.
Kieran McLoughlin of the INMO, who is the beds manager at the hospital, said around 300 of the nursing staff at the hospital are INMO members.
He said junior nursing staff are being left under increased pressure because of a lack of experienced staff.
Speaking at the picket outside Letterkenny University Hospital this morning, INMO Industrial Relations Officer Nora Hickey (pictured) said “the resolution of the nurses is massive”.
She said attendances at the emergency department at Letterkenny University hospital have risen steadily over the last ten years and particularly over the last four years.
“There is a problem with bed capacity at Letterkenny, there are not enough beds to serve the public of Donegal who are taxpayers,” she said.
A unit in the hospital is closed because there no nurses to staff it, she said.
“You can’t open a unit if you don’t have the nurses there.
“The young nurses and midwives as they qualify are talking with their feet and they are going to countries where they are respected, have good working terms and conditions and they have a higher rate of pay. And they know when they have a day off on annual leave they are not going to get a call to come in.”
Risks are present in the hospital every day of the week which management stand over, she said.
“But because nurses and midwives are actually standing up for their patients and their profession there is now suddenly an issue about risk.”
There are good lines of communications with management during the 24-hour action, she said.
“We have a process set up with management. There is a strike committee and a general management committee. There are daily meetings and there are open lines of communication there and any issues that arise are addressed.”