Todays planned nurse strike called off after late night talks

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A last minute deal between the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Health Service Executive has led to the cancellation of coordinated strikes in seven hospital emergency departments across the country.

The deal includes cash bursaries to attract nurses, promotions, extra annual leave and a review to establish appropriate staffing in emergency departments.

The union will now ballot of their members on the new set of proposals agreed at talks at the Workplace Relations Commission. INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said this ballot will be carried out by 5 January.

He acknowledged that all nurses are over worked, but said this dispute was centred on emergency staff problems and finding a better deal for them.

Emergency nurses will get two additional days of annual leave in 2016 and 2017 in lieu of missed meal breaks.

This will apply to those currently employed and those recruited before December 2016.

Among the recruitment initiatives, there will be a €1,500 relocation payment for nurses recruited from abroad.

In addition, recruits in all nursing disciplines, not just emergency departments, will be entitled to a €1,500 educational bursary payable one year after they join.

A review of staffing levels in emergency departments must be completed by the end of March 2016.

There will also be an accelerated report on pay for student and newly-graduated nurses to be completed by 22 December.

Extra grade one clinical nurse managers will be promoted to aid with patient flow.

In addition, in departments with high numbers of admitted patients for whom beds are not yet available, there will be dedicated grade two clinical nurse managers to oversee their care.

Hospital escalation policies to deal with overcrowding will be standardised across the country.

As yet two things remain unclear: the cost of the proposals, and the extent to which they may trigger knock-on claims from other grades.

The INMO has confirmed that further industrial action in emergency departments scheduled for January will remain in place until members decide whether the proposals negotiated with the HSE are good enough.

Asked whether the additional leave to compensate for missed breaks could realistically be contained to emergency nurses, Mr Doran said this related distinctly to health and safety and to pressure in emergency departments.

He also welcomed new promotional structures, as well as the promise of a new emergency department staffing report to be completed within three months.