Hospitals Reviewing Non-Emergency Surgery

Hospitals around the country are reviewing the scheduling of non-emergency operations in light of the work-to-rule by nurses. The impact of the industrial action in the northeast is being exacerbated by an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis.

In its latest update, the Health Service Executive is reporting delays in a number of hospitals. It is the third day of the work-to-rule by nurses seeking a 10.5% pay increase and a 35-hour working week.

The HSE said that 14 patients in the northeast have been affected by the winter vomiting bug resulting in suspension of new admissions to wards in Cavan General Hospital. The executive said that this, in turn, was adding to the delays in the Emergency Department of the hospital.

Many other hospitals are also experiencing delays in Accident & Emergency departments. Patient admissions and discharges are slower than normal. A number of hospitals are reviewing scheduled non-emergency operations.

However the number of these procedures would be lower than normal because of the Bank Holiday weekend and the fact that they would have been scaled down in advance of the start of the dispute. Outpatient departments are also experiencing delays and there are some delays in obtaining laboratory results.

The unions are threatening work stoppages in one week’s time if their demands are not met. The Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association said the nature, form and timing of the stoppages would be announced on Easter Monday. They said they decided not to commence the action until after the Easter weekend so that all patients currently in hospitals could receive treatment.

Today’s action means nurses are not answering phones except in essential cases.

Yesterday the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, said there was only one way forward and called on nurses to come back into the benchmarking process.