Up to 200 nurses and other hospital staff are protesting outside the Dáil over the continuing overcrowding crisis in hospital emergency departments.
The demonstration comes ahead of work-to-rule action by nurses in hospitals around the country in the coming weeks.
Nurses protest at Dail now. Resolve this crisis- provide beds and nursing staff. pic.twitter.com/bff0LAOKiN— Seanadóir Máire Devine (@mairedev) January 14, 2015
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said that he hopes that a small number of problem hospitals can be fixed.
While the number of patients waiting on a bed in emergency departments fell today, nurses have insisted that a long-term solution is needed.
Paddy getting the crowd going outside the Dail pic.twitter.com/LcwEjyJ8MR— Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (@INMO_IRL) January 14, 2015
The INMO's trolley and ward watch stated that 359 patients are waiting today, down from 433 yesterday.
Nurses protesting this lunchtime say the crisis has continued, on and off, for 10 years.
“All that we want is for change to happen, for staff to be respected in terms of our workplace being a safe place to work and we’re not putting ourselves and our patients in danger,” said one nurse.
“Minister Varadkar, I just especially want to say to you – stop asking the nurses to do more,” said another.
“We’ve done all we can do and saying today that that’s it, there’s nothing left in the tank.”
— Conor Hunt (@conorfhunt) January 14, 2015
This morning, INMO members at Naas General Hospital said they were going to mount a work to rule on February 4.
They join nurses at Beaumont Hospital, University Hospital Galway and the Midwestern Hospital Group.
General secretary of the INMO, Liam Doran – who has agreed to co-chair the Emergency task force, says it is time for less talk and more action.
“More staff, more beds, more community services – without that, you won’t address this problem,” he said.
“We don’t need more high-level strategies, we need actions on the ground, which means funding, which means resources.
“So HSE and Government are going to have to start taking decisions.”
Speaking on his way into that emergency department taskforce meeting this afternoon, Minister Varadkar had this message for nurses:
“When you compare like with like, and time of year with time of year, even using the nurses’ own figures, we’re at a seven-year low on Trolleywatch,” he said.
“But this is chronic problem that has afflicted about a third of our emergency departments now for 15 years.
“And they’re sick to death of it, and they’re frustrated about it, and I totally understand where they’re coming from.
“So what we’re going to need really is a relentless focus on this issue, and we’re going to need a local solution in problem hospitals, but that’s going to need to be assisted by national measures.”