Staffing a key issue for striking nurses

More than 3,000 nurses throughout Sligo, Leitirm and Donegal are continuing their protest action this afternoon.

The first all-out strike by the INMO since 1999 is the latest in an ongoing campaign for improved staffing levels, pay and conditions.

Despite the first heavy overnight snow and frost this winter, nurses are continuing to brave the elements today as they take their turns on picket lines outside hospitals and HSE facilities throughout the region.

Patients have been urged to stay away from emergency departments today, and the HSE has cancelled 25,000 medical appointments.

Noel Treanor, industrial relations officer with the INMO, is with nurses on the picket line outside Sligo University Hospital.

He told the North West Today show that staffing levels is one cause of major frustration for nurses:

The government says it cannot afford to give in to the nurses’ because it will lead to demands from other sectors of the public service.

It also adds that, because of uncertainty over Brexit, now is not the time to do anything that would lead to increased government expenditure.

Martina Harkin Kelly is president of the INMO.

The Letterkenny native now living in Sligo is also on the picket line in Sligo today.

She says nurses have always been told the time is not appropriate to meet their demands;

The INMO is planning a further five days of industrial action over the next fortnight.

However, Health Minister Simon Harris has warned there’s no consequence-free way to give nurses a pay rise.