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Paediatric nurses in Antrim vote for industrial action

Children's nurses at Antrim Area hospital have voted for industrial action over A&E staffing concerns
Seanín Graham

MORE than 90 per cent of paediatric nurses at Antrim Area Hospital have voted for industrial action including all-out strike over A&E staffing concerns.

Last month The Irish News spoke to members of the specialist team, who raised serious concerns about what they claimed was “unsafe” care of children.

Around 30 nurses will take part in the walk-out on November 19.

The unprecedented move centres on an arrangement involving the rotation of a paediatric nurse from Antrim's main children's ward to work in the hospital's casualty unit for a 12-hour shift between 10am and 10pm.

Staff insist that two paediatric nurses are required to work in A&E on a 24-hour basis and that overstretched casualty nurses are being taken from the adult department.

The trade union Unison last night urged Northern health trust chiefs to "see sense" and talk to staff on the ground.

"There should always be hope of a resolution and our members want management to address their concerns that patient care could be affected," said Eoin Stewart, chair of Unison's nursing forum.

However, in an interview with this newspaper last month, the trust's director of nursing, Olive MacLeod, stressed that care levels were not at risk and expressed her "disappointment" that she had failed to win the "hearts and minds" of staff.

"Some staff are less inclined to change but our business is looking after the patient… I would never put a nurse in a situation where they are compromised," she told The Irish News.

"I am a nurse and I am satisfied that this is a good model of care… this is my registration on the line here."

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