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MINISTER HOPES NURSES STRIKE CAN BE AVOIDED; Union warns of difficult task to resolve dispute.

Byline: JAMES WARD

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar has said he is "hopeful" the nurses strike will be avoided ahead of crunch talks tomorrow.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation voted in favour of holding industrial action on December 15 by an overwhelming 92% two weeks ago.

But it now looks as though the strike may be avoided after "constructive" talks between the INMO and the HSE.

Tomorrow both parties will reconvene for what has been described as "intensive negotiations".

Mr Varadkar appeared confident the proposed strike, prompted by the current crisis in emergency departments, would not take place.

He said in the Dail: "I met the General Secretary of the INMO on Monday. We have spoken on the phone since then.

"I also met the INMO emergency department nurses committee, at its request, a couple of weeks ago.

"Talks have begun at the Workplace Relations Commission, which has now intervened in the matter, and that is the best place for these matters to be resolved, as they almost always are."

Deputy Varadkar said he "recognised the difficulties" being faced by staff.

He added: "Progress is being made but this needs to be sustained through the full implementation of the Emergency Department Task Force recommendations.

"Additional medical staff are being appointed."INMO Deputy General Secretary Dave Hughes said he was satisfied Department of Health officials were in no doubt "as to the seriousness of the situation or the difficult task ahead for the parties if the strike action is to be averted".

He added: "We left management in no doubt the 92% mandate given to the organisation arose out of extreme frustration by a group of staff who feel they have been abandoned in the wider search for a solution to emergency department overcrowding.

"These departments are grossly overworked and understaffed and they are no longer safe for either nurses or their patients.

"Burnout is a high factor now and a number of emergency departments have lost experienced staff in recent months as they have simply had enough in the ED."

Talks will take place at the Relations Commission Head Quarters and are expected to reach a make-or-break point before the end of next week.

james.ward@irishmirror.ie COMMENT: PAGE 14

92 The percentage of staff who voted for strike action over conditions

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CONFIDENT Varadkar

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 6, 2015
Words:387
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