'Significant impact' expected as 10,000 health support staff strike

After a series of talks broke down earlier this week, a planned strike by 10,000 healthcare support staff is going ahead.

The strike action will cause severe disruption to delivery of healthcare in 38 hospitals today, in a dispute that looks set to escalate.

The 24-hour work stoppage involves workers who deliver essential services such as household, catering and portering.

The action is to take place after talks between health service management and Siptu at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) failed to end with a resolution to a dispute about pay.

The HSE expects it will have a significant impact on services, according to a statement.

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"The HSE regrets that industrial action planned by SIPTU on Wednesday, June 26th 2019 will affect patient and client services," they said in a statement.

"The industrial action is planned to take place at 38 hospitals and healthcare facilities, and will involve a significant number of staff who make an essential contribution to the effective running of our health services every day."

The HSE has said they will engage on contingency planning with SIPTU at local hospital and healthcare facility level to ensure "minimum disruption to patient services and to ensure patient dignity and that essential daily care remains in place."

The strike will cause the deferral of some elective inpatient procedures, significant cancellations of scope procedures, reduced outpatient services, reduced laboratory services for GPs, reduced catering services for both patients and staff, and reduced operating theatre activity, the HSE said.

The services impacted will vary across the hospital sites. " While every effort will be made to minimise impact on patients, industrial action involving these essential staff will have a significant impact on services," the statement continued.

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"Too many issues remain unresolved"

"Patients are being contacted by their local hospital or healthcare facility in the event that their scheduled procedure or service will be affected by the dispute."

Siptu health divisional organiser Paul Bell said the trade union would prefer a negotiated settlement that did not impact on patient services, but said: "too many issues remain unresolved."

“Unfortunately, we have run out of time and too many issues remain unresolved. Siptu members have acted in good faith at all times during this dispute including by deferring two days of strike action,” he said.

Main photograph: Pexels

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