Updated: 09/11/16 : 11:45:40
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Harris appeals for nurses' cooperation as ballot begins

Health Minister Simon Harris has appealed for nurses to "work with the Department" as their ballot for industrial action commences.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are currently being balloted in a dispute over what they describe as "chronic overcrowding and insufficient staffing". A result is expected by December 15.

The industrial action would first take the form of a work-to-rule, followed by one-day stoppages. The INMO said it was confident members will vote in favour.

Health Minister Simon Harris (pictured) said the HSE is continuing to implement schemes and programmes to attract nurses back to Ireland.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said: "We are not going to continue to pretend the existing staffing levels can provide safe care and meet demands.

"So if they don't expand the nursing and midwifery workforce, they're going to have to contract the health service. It's as simple as that."

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly said the nurses' decision is a direct result of government failure to deal with the problems facing the health service.

"The ballot is born out of frustration with a government that doesn’t seem to be listening to their own workers," she said.

"There was recently a recruitment fair in the RDS and the HSE didn’t even have a stand.

"The private hospitals had stands; hospitals from England, America. England, Saudi Arabia - all these people seem to want our nurses, but the message they're getting from the HSE is 'we don’t want you'."