INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OUR LADY OF LOURDES HOSPITAL, DROGHEDA
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. 1. Transfer of emergency caesarean sections. 2. Staffing levels for maternity
2. There are two issues involved in the dispute.
(1). Transfer of all Caesarean sections from the labour ward to the theatre.
(2). Maintenance of agreed staffing levels on the labour ward at 29.2
In March, 2001, two maternity units closed in Dundalk and Monaghan and most of the work transferred to Drogheda Hospital. In 2003, there were 817 caesarean sections in the Hospital, 344 elective and 473 emergency. All elective caesareans are done in theatre, but the Union wants the remaining emergency caesareans transferred from the labour ward to theatre. Management claims that they would require an additional ten theatre nurses which it does not have at present.
The claim, plus a number of issues, was first dealt with at the Labour Relations Commissions in 2001. The Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) involved issued a proposal (details supplied to the Court). The Union claims that, while a review of staffing for maternity took place as per the IRO's proposal, the results were not implemented and that the average number of nurses per week is 26 instead of the agreed figure of 29.2.
The Union felt that the two issues involved had not been dealt with and a further conciliation conference took place in March, 2004. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 24th of March, 2004, in accordance with section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 19th of August, 2004, in Dundalk, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Since the work transferred from Dundalk and Monaghan to Drogheda Hospital in 2001, the midwives have struggled with an excessive workload. Caesarean sections increased by 66.7% from January 2000 to December, 2003.
: 2. Whilst the Union accepts that additional nurses will be needed in theatre, it does not believe that 10 nurses will be required, as Management claims.
3. The Board has refused to implement the IRO's proposals of 2001, despite stating that it would do so after reviewing the issues.
4. 1. The Board has fully complied with the findings of 2001, and has significantly exceeded its provisions in a number of instances.
2. The impact which any proposed solution will have on other units of the Hospital must be carefully considered from a safety perspective before it can be implemented.
3. The Board has moved the issues forward on a phased basis. It intends that the transfer of worker to the theatre will take place once the necessary staff are in position.
The cases before the Court concerns two issues, namely (i) the transfer of emergency caesarean sections from the maternity theatre to the general theatre, and (ii) maintenance of an agreed staffing level on the Labour Ward.
Hospital Management has indicated its commitment to transfer emergency caesarean sections to the general theatre: all elective caesarean sections were transferred in January, 2003, as a first step in transferring all caesareans sections to the general theatre. However, the Union is dissatisfied with the lack of progress on this issue and seeks a timeframe for full implementation. The Court notes that Management's plan on this issue seeks to implement the transfer of emergency caesareans sections to the general theatre by sometime in early 2005.
This issue has been the subject of a Union claim since 2001. The Court notes Management's acceptance that the transfer of such patients is in line with "best practice".
Having considered the oral and written submission of both parties, and in recommending in favour of the Union's claim, the Court would strongly urge that resources be put in place to achieve this objective. This will require the Health Board to provide resources for the employment of the additional staff required. The Court recommends that both the Hospital and the Health Board should treat this as a priority.
The Washbrook report recommended a staff compliment of 29.2 in the Labour Ward. The Court notes Management's commitment to this staffing level and recommends that this level should be achieved with an agreed timeframe.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th September, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.