Nurses and midwives across the Republic of Ireland have today started voting on whether to go on strike over a dispute about understaffing.
The largest union representing these professions in the country claimed patient safety was being put at risk because low pay was making it difficult to recruit and retain enough nurses and midwives.
“Going on strike is not a decision we take lightly, but we have been left with no option”
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is encouraging its members to vote in favour of strike action.
The INMO has more than 40,000 nurse and midwife members and all those employed by the public health service can have their say. Polling ends on 13 December.
Should the vote pass, nurses and midwives will stop work for 24 hours and will only provide lifesaving care and emergency response. It would be only the second all-out national strike in the INMO’s 100-year history, with the first taking place in 1990.
If the matter continues to go unresolved, further 24-hour walk-outs will take place.
- Protesting nurses and midwives across Republic of Ireland demand staffing boost
- Northern Ireland’s midwives and nurses consulted on strike action
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the INMO, said: “This is all about safety. Nurses and midwives do not want to go on strike. We just want to do our jobs and care for patients. Yet understaffing means we can no longer do that.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said securing enough staff to keep services safe would only be possible if nurses and midwives were given a pay rise.
“Going on strike is not a decision we take lightly, but we have been left with no option and are now forced down this path,” she added.
“Nurses and midwives are united and will stand up for our professions and our patients,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
Nursing Times has contacted Ireland’s Health Service Executive for comment.