Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO ) in the maternity unit, the labour ward and maternity OPD of Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar, have unanimously balloted in favour of industrial action, up to and including a full withdrawal of labour, due to staff shortages.
Members will stage a lunchtime protest at the hospital on Tuesday, December 13 from 1pm to 2pm and they had also voted for this to be followed by a work to rule. But following discussions with the HSE they have agreed to suspend the industrial action with matters to go to the Workforce Relations Commission. The work to rule would have seen members withdraw from clerical and support duties to focus on, and prioritise, direct midwifery care. If no progress is made members will proceed to a full withdrawal of labour."
The action is to be taken in pursuit of the INMO’s claims for the Maternity Ward, Labour Ward and Maternity Outpatient Department of Mayo University Hospital to deal comprehensively with the understaffing, lack of key specialist roles and lack of robust governance structures within the Department.
The organisation is calling for: (1 ) An independent review of staffing in the maternity unit; (2 ) Appointment of a director and assistant director of midwifery and CMM3; (3 ) The appointment of an advanced midwife practitioner, a clinical facilitator for maternity services, a lactation consultant, a bereavement CMS, and a CMS sonographer; (4 ) The immediate appointment of dedicated ward clerks and porters to support the midwifery service; (5 ) The immediate replacement of staff on all forms of leave and proper rostering of staff for each shift; (6 ) A review of transfers from the maternity unit to other locations; and (7 ) A follow up framework on risk assessments.
Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers has called on the Minister for Health and the HSE to urgently review the staffing situation at the maternity unit at Mayo University Hospital. It comes as midwives attached to the INMO voted in favour of industrial action as a result of severe staff shortages within the department.
"The news of industrial action being taken by midwives at Mayo University Hospital shows just how desperate the situation in the maternity unit has become. These midwives have outlined severe staff shortages and have expressed concerns about ongoing clinical risks to mothers and babies. What is more worrying is the fact that they have continuously highlighted these issues, along with possible solutions, with the HSE but, time and again, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears,” explained Deputy Chambers.
"It is just one bad news story after the next at the Mayo University Hospital, and all the while the Minister refused to act. I am also concerned that efforts are being made to dumb down the seriousness of the situation at the hospital. During a recent visit by Minister Simon Harris a number of local reports suggested that ambulance staff and GPs had been directed to take patients to neighbouring hospitals in Sligo and Galway so that the chaotic situation at Castlebar could be hidden from the Minister. If we are to make a business case for further finding for the hospital to Minister Harris, which clearly we need to do, then we must show just how bad things are.
"I am calling on the Minister to immediately address the staffing shortage in the maternity unit at Mayo University Hospital and to sit down with the INMO and the midwives concerned to resolve this very serious industrial dispute before there is any further impact on patients. The fact that staff have been forced to resort to industrial action tells me that the HSE and the Minister are not listening to them and they have been left with no alternative. No one should be expected to work in these conditions.
"People in Mayo are genuinely concerned about their ability to access full and proper health services at MUH. It begs the question, how much confidence would a pregnant woman have in the services at Mayo University Hospital after reading the statement from the INMO?”