surgery at the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise was cancelled on Monday (March 21) as efforts to broker an agreement in the week long dispute over pay to agency nurses and midwifes continued. “The theatre operating list was suspended due to the non availability of agency nurses and midwifes,” confirmed Alison O’Connell, a theatre nurse at the hospital.
The dispute centres on HSE plans to reduce pay to agency staff in a stated effort to save €40 million a year. Nursing unions have advised members who work for agencies not to make themselves available for the new lower rates of pay, which have come into effect.
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Alison O’Connell outlined how the dispute has impacted frontline staff and health services. “The situation has been compounded by the recruitment embargo, which has been in place since September 2008,” she stated. “As a result, 2,000 nursing jobs have been suppressed. There has also been the non replacement of staff in frontline services. All we are getting is continued pay cuts and the suppression of roles.
“The open list was suspended on Monday in Portlaoise, due to the unavailability of agency staff. What does that say about the HSE’s management of the situation.