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INO Calls On Minister For Health And Children, Mary Harney To Intervene In Hunger Strike By Patient’S Relative In St Patrick’S Hospital, Waterford. 11/05/09

PRESS RELEASE, Monday, May 11th, 2009

The Organisation is aware that from last Monday the son of a patient in a ward in St Patrick’s Hospital, Waterford commenced a hunger strike in an effort to force the HSE to reverse their decision to close a 19 bedded ward there.

The HSE plan to close St Bridget’s Ward by July 2009 and admissions have now ceased. It is not intended to relocate patients outside of the hospital but the patients will be “transferred to other vacancies as they arise in the Hospital”. The HSE claim that “replacement of the ward has been identified as part of the HSE Capital Investment Plan, with plans being progressed for a new 50-bedded Community Nursing Unit in Waterford.”  However, this Unit is still at planning stage with no definitive date for construction or opening.  The HSE claim that they based their decision to close St Brigid’s Ward on Fire and Health and Safety Reports. However, the Friends of St Patrick’s Hospital have offered to fund the refurbishment of the ward to address the Fire and Health and Safety concerns outlined by the HSE, but this offer has so far met with total rejection.

While the INO is fully supportive of efforts to keep the beds open, the Organisation cannot condone a hunger strike and is calling on the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney to immediately appoint a mediator between the gentleman in question and the HSE to facilitate his safe withdrawal from the hunger strike.

Speaking this afternoon, INO Industrial Relations Officer, Liz Curran said:

“Our members at the hospital are becoming very concerned about the potential serious damage to this man’s health if his hunger strike is allowed to continue.  Somebody must take the initiative and we are calling on the Minister to appoint an expert to intervene in this potentially dangerous stand off.

As patient advocates, our members also fear the permanent loss of these beds from the county for the elderly population of Waterford, and fear the further erosion of services at the Hospital in the future.

The INO, together with the union UNITE will attend a hearing at the Labour Relations Commission in June on the issue and in the meantime have instructed members not to cooperate with any instruction from management which would lead to the closure of the ward.”



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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie