There was relief among staff at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar this week, after the HSE announced it is to defer 11 nursing job cuts at the hospital.
Following a meeting with the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO ), the HSE agreed to postpone the termination of a total of 21 nursing contracts at Mullingar, Tullamore, and Portlaoise hospitals to allow for risk assessments on the potential impact of the cuts to take place.
According to the INO, the assessments are likely to uncover “dangerously low” staffing levels in all three hospitals.
Speaking following the meeting with the HSE, INO industrial relations officer, Lorraine Monaghan, said; “This process will focus on safe staffing levels, clinical risk and the impact of staffing reductions on patient care. The INO has no doubt, that such risk assessments, when carried out in an open and transparent manner, will uncover dangerously low staffing levels in all three hospitals.”
She added that there has been “a considerable reduction of nursing and midwifery staff in recent months, who have retired or resigned and have not been replaced because of the HSE ban on recruitment”.
“The effect of taking a further 21 nursing staff out of the three Midland Regional Hospitals, would most certainly have a detrimental effect on patient care and ultimately lead to fatalities,” she continued.
“This is about safe practice and our members cannot accept and work in conditions which they consider pose high risk to the safety and welfare of patients in their care.”
The INO also warned that should the threat to the 21 jobs resurface before any agreements on staffing are reached, it will ballot its members for industrial action.
Deputy James Bannon expressed his relief this week that “common sense has prevailed”.
“The proposed cutback to staff at Mullingar Regional Hospital is a major threat to the health and welfare of the community, with the risk of fatalities increasing with each valuable position lost,” he said.
“Everyone concerned with the three Midlands Hospitals will welcome the assessments as they will show the dangerously low level of staffing that is keeping these facilities running.
“I have nothing but admiration for the work carried out by all the staff at the Midlands Regional Hospital, in extremely difficult circumstances.”