Hospital staff asked to 'seriously consider' volunteering for work to alleviate bank holiday overcrowding

Published date25 May 2023
AuthorEmmet Malone, Paul Cullen
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
The request has been made in a letter from HSE senior management warning of a "substantial impact" on hospitals "with onward implications for the rest of the healthcare system" if wider services are not provided over the coming weekends

"Hospital group chief executives and chief officers have been authorised to engage directly with a number of grades of staff with a view to providing services over the coming bank holiday weekend to reduce the risk patients experience in emergency departments through delays after triage or in waiting for admission," according to the letter, seen by The Irish Times.

"As you know, the solutions to these delays are not confined to emergency departments but involve a system-wide response to maximise patient flow within hospitals as well as between hospitals and the community," says HSE chief executive Bernard Gloster, chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry and chief operations officer Damien McCallion.

"We would ask that if you are contacted directly, you would seriously consider volunteering to either change your current working pattern for the two-week period ahead to allow some aspect of weekend working or to work by way of additional arrangements which would of course be remunerated in accordance with the terms of your individual contracts."

Thousands of clinical and support staff who normally work a five-day week are expected to be asked to work over the June bank holiday weekend to avoid a repeat of the "dreadful position" hospitals were in after this month's bank holiday.

Speaking in Galway, Mr Gloster said hospital managements around the country would be starting to ask staff over the coming 24 hours to alter their work arrangements that weekend to allow service provision to be closer to weekday levels.

He was addressing delegates representing some 33,000 workers at the Fórsa trade union's health division conference on Thursday,

The request, Mr Gloster said, would be to work on a voluntary basis with those making themselves available receiving either overtime payments or days in lieu in accordance with the terms of their contracts.

In the longer term, Mr Gloster said a move to seven-day rosters for a whole range of HSE staff outside of the ranks of doctors and nurses was essential if capacity issues were to be addressed and services improved. It would, he said, be a key issue in the forthcoming public sector pay talks.

"The reality is we have exceptionally talented, very good people working across the Irish health...

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