A day without health support staff in 38 hospitals across Ireland has presented challenges in caring for patients and has caused a 'significant' number of appointment cancellations according to the HSE.
HSE health support staff at Portlaoise hospital are on strike today over what the trade union Siptu says is the failure by Government to implement the findings of a job evaluation scheme.
In a statement this afternoon, the HSE said it regrets that the strike has gone ahead.
"The HSE regrets that industrial action by SIPTU currently underway is affecting patient and client services.
"38 hospitals and healthcare facilities are affected by today’s industrial action involving a significant number of staff who make an essential contribution to the effective running of our health services every day.
"Feedback from our services this morning would suggest that the situation in all sites is challenging because of the range of essential services affected.
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"However, all sites are continuing to engage locally with SIPTU on contingency plans to ensure safe service provision and ensure patient dignity, care and comfort. In this regard, we wish to acknowledge the goodwill and cooperation of our staff.
"As well as facing challenges in maintaining essential daily care for our inpatients such as nutrition, hydration, transfer of patients, cleaning and infection control, emerging data would also suggest that there has been a significant number of appointment and procedure cancellations including, surgical procedures, scope procedures, and outpatient appointments.
"It is important to emphasise that while many of our Emergency Departments are busy this morning and patients attending may experience delays, all Emergency Departments are open and patients requiring urgent and emergency care should attend
"The services impacted varies across the hospital sites and patients have been contacted by their local hospital or healthcare facility in the event that their scheduled procedure or service is affected by the dispute," a HSE spokesperson said.