The Government is expected to accept the Labour Court's proposals in the eight-day-old nationwide nurses' strike, when they are issued to unions and health service employers, tomorrow morning. The four-union Nursing Alliance is due to meet immediately to consider the package and could decide to defer the strike from tomorrow night pending the outcome of a nationwide vote by its twenty-seven-and-a-half thousand members. However, pickets remain in place at hospitals all over the country.
The key point, which has been agreed so far, is the provision of a new senior staff nurse grade. The Court will have to decide in its final package how many of those posts should be provided and how much additional pay the jobs would have. However, it is clear that all nurses covered by the unions' claim for long service recognition will be eligible for the posts.
The national nursing councils of all four unions are on stand-by today, prepared for the possibility of the early recommendation from the Labour Court. As pickets are put in place for the eighth day, nurses, doctors and health service administrators around the country will be hoping that an end to this dispute is in sight, with pressure on hospital services growing more intolerable by the day.
As the strike continues, the Irish Nurses Organisation has said that it will not provide extra cover for cancer patients at St. Luke's Hospital in Dublin. The organisation was responding to calls from hospital management for nurses to leave the picket lines to administer chemotherapy. A spokesperson said that the level of cover at St. Luke's was equal to cancer units around the country and no special concessions would be made.