Considerable disruption to hospital appointments is still likely today despite the suspension of a planned 24-hour work stoppage by 10,000 health support workers.
The decision to defer strike action yesterday evening following an invitation to emergency talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) left the HSE in a last-minute scramble to try and reinstate appointments for patients who had procedures cancelled.
However for many patients, it was too late. Fergus Byrne, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway, told RTE news he had cancelled 10 patients’ procedures and that they would “remain in a situation of being uncertain as to when their care will be delivered”.
The HSE was attempting to contact patients to advise if their procedures could go ahead after Siptu agreed to suspend the strike.
Paul Bell, Siptu health division organiser, said the WRC “found there was scope” for parties to re-enter negotiations, despite the collapse of talks at the WRC on Monday.
Mr Bell said there were “no pre-conditions” to the talks but that the union expected to hear there was a “clear understanding” that the Government would “respect” an agreement reached in 2015, when health workers signed up to the Lansdowne Road public sector pay deal as a quid pro quo for having their roles evaluated under a Job Evaluation Scheme (JES).
The review found the workers were performing duties outside their original job description. As a result, they are seeking pay increases of between €1,600-€3,100, which the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has indicated it will not pay before 2021.
Last night Mr Bell said there was “a fair amount of talking to do” if five further strike days planned for June and July are to be avoided.