SIPTU and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have announced plans to ballot members for industrial action at two HSE-run facilities in Clifden, Co Galway.

It follows the breakdown of talks, involving unions and HSE management, under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission today.

The discussions were held in an effort to reach agreement in an ongoing row over staff rosters and service provision at Clifden District Hospital and the nearby St Anne's Community Nursing Unit.

The unions have accused the HSE of failing to be transparent in relation to the future of the District Hospital.

They say the unilateral imposition of changed rosters in late September was in breach of the Building Momentum public service agreement.

The breakdown in negotiations came after the HSE issued a statement saying it was continuing recruitment efforts to address staff shortages at both facilities.

St. Anne’s Community Nursing Unit has 21 residents and a number of others on a waiting list for admission. But staff shortages have resulted in nurses and support workers from the District Hospital covering shifts there in recent months.

While a number of nurses have been shortlisted for interview next month, unions say there is no clarity in relation to the future provision of respite and step down care at the District Hospital.

There is widespread concern locally about the maintenance of services there.

Last month, the HSE said Clifden District Hospital had reached "crisis point" and that services were only being provided there on "a day by day basis".

In a joint statement this evening, the INMO and SIPTU said they believed a situation had been orchestrated to jeopardise the continuation of services at both sites.

It is expected that plans for a ballot on possible strike action will be finalised in the coming days.

'Ongoing concerns'

Earlier today, the HSE said it is continuing efforts to recruit staff nurses for Clifden District Hospital, amid ongoing concerns about the future of the facility.

The hospital was closed today and will not re-open until Monday. The HSE said this was because no patients were booked for the next four days.

It maintains the closure will allow staff to take accumulated leave, some of which has accrued as a result of pressures in filling rosters at both the District Hospital and the nearby St Anne's Community Nursing Unit.

The hospital provides respite and step-down services.

In September, hundreds of people attended a public meeting in the town to voice their concerns over the future of the facility.

The HSE says it is running a "bespoke recruitment campaign" for staff nurses there, with interviews due to take place in early December.