Health support workers down tools over pay

While emergency departments remained operational across the Saolta group, patients were told to expect significant delays

Hospital porter Tom Devaney with health care assistants Kim O'Sullivan, Paul O'Connell, and Mairead O'Sullivan protesting outside University College Hospital, yesterday Wednesday.  Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Hospital porter Tom Devaney with health care assistants Kim O'Sullivan, Paul O'Connell, and Mairead O'Sullivan protesting outside University College Hospital, yesterday Wednesday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Health support workers at University, Merlin Park, and Portiuncula Hospitals downed tools yesterday (Wednesday ) at 8am for 24 hours as part of a nationwide SIPTU dispute.

The disagreement between the hospital employees and the HSE is over what the trade union claims is the health authority’s failure to provide pay rises to union members, resulting from a job evaluation scheme.

The staff affected include porters, cleaners, catering staff, health and maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, and technicians. They were part of a 10,000 strong group across the country involved in the one day work stoppage. They postponed strike action last week to facilitate talks, aimed at averting industrial action, to take place earlier this week.

Hospitals in the Saolta University Health Care Group, which runs the public hospitals, warned in the run-up to the strike that patients could expect delays and cancelled appointments and apologised to the public for this inconvenience.

A spokesperson outlined that while contingency plans had been put in place in advance of the industrial action there would be disruption. “Across each of the hospitals, patients whose procedures or appointments were cancelled were contacted directly – this mostly related to inpatient elective procedures, scopes, and day case procedures. Some outpatient clinics were also cancelled – it varied from hospital to hospital but patients were notified directly.”

While emergency departments remained operational across the Saolta group, patients were told to expect significant delays. Critical care areas such as Intensive Care and High Dependenct Units operated as normal during the dispute. Chemotherapy treatment and dialysis also took place as scheduled across the group. There were reduced or very limited catering services for both patients and staff in some hospitals in the group during the work stoppage.

Additional strikes are planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next if the dispute has not been resolved.

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