The HSE has been given a final chance to stave off strikes across hospitals over nursing staff and patient care.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have given management until next Friday to come up with proposals to address their concerns over staffing, recruitment, and retention.
One-day stoppages are still set to go ahead after 90% of the membership of the INMO voted in favour of industrial action.
Discussions between the Department of Health, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE, and INMO were adjourned on Thursday after they failed to resolve any of the issues nurses have been raising as part of their dispute.
It was agreed the HSE, in conjunction with the Department of Health, would produce initial proposals in writing before January 20.
The INMO will then reflect on these proposals before the talks begin again on January 23.
Nursing representatives highlighted the deepening crisis and the need for special measures, in addition to everything that has been tried in recent months, to address this problem, during their two-and-a-half-hour meeting with HSE and department officials.
They called for “special measures” and want to address the loss of nursing/midwifery posts in recent years, and its impact upon workloads, morale, and the health and safety of nurses and midwives across the service.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said his organisation had “clearly outlined” to officials the “implications for patient care, the workload, the whole health, and safety for staff.
He said: “Eight years ago, we had 39,000 nursing-midwifery posts — now we only have 35,500 nursing-midwifery posts in a health service that’s 20%-plus busier in terms of patient acuity, dependency, average length of stay, day procedures.”
The executive council of the INMO will meet on Tuesday when they will be updated on the discussions and will also make a decision on the next steps in its staffing, recruitment, and retention campaign.
Nurses have threatened to engage in work-to-rule measures over frustration at what they claim are excessive unpaid working hours, as well as chronic and persistent overcrowding.
They have said patients are now suffering as a result of inadequate staffing levels.
As part of the industrial action, nurses would refuse to work beyond their rostered hours and would not agree to be redeployed from one ward to another during their shift
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved