"We're not going to back down" says nurses outside Mullingar Hospital
It's a busy morning on the picket line outside the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar this morning, where nurses are preparing to up the ante again next week with three days of strike action.
They are also preparing to take to the streets of Dublin on Saturday and are asking members of the public to come and join them.
"We're hoping for lots of support, if anyone's in Dublin on Saturday, there will be lots of patient advocacy groups there as well. We're going to start in Parnell Square and down into O'Connell Street and down by the Dáil," began strike committee chairperson Tracey Ó Fiaich.
Of the three-day strike next week, which will commence on Tuesday and run throughout Wednesday and Thursday, Tracey says it is "going to have continuing impact".
"At this stage we would really like the government to start serious talks, it is time, we're not going to back down," she states.
"The public are still 100% behind us. What we're hearing from them is that they are very annoyed at the government.
"They feel they are being left out in the cold, so we're still getting that full support even though we know it is an inconvenience for many having appointments cancelled."
It's understood that up to 400 appointments and day cases were cancelled in Mullingar Hospital on the first day of strike action, and up to 320 on Tuesday last.
"It is having a significant effect," says Tracey, "But the government are still not budging."
"They released a press statement saying they are willing to discuss other options, but we've already discussed all options," she argues.
"We know that the pay will address the shortages in nursing staff, we do want that pay parity, we do want recognition for our qualification, and our ongoing expertise and experience," Tracey continues. "We have to be very versatile, we're always taking on new roles, so we want recognition of that."
And she thanks the public for their ongoing support.
"The public have been super, they're still dropping in coffee and food, fresh flowers, that has really kept moral going."
"Patients are always our top priority. Again I want to emphasize we are providing care here and in the ED.
"I'll go back to Storm Emma, in case people have forgotten, all the nurses who came in and stayed in the hospital, on stretchers, on makeshift beds, and that was for that patients, we always put them first, that's why we became nurses in the first place."
In a statement from the HSE, they say that while Emergency Departments remain open during the INMO strike, it is with "reduced staffing levels".
"The Emergency Departments across the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group are very busy and have a high number of patients waiting for beds and patients are experiencing extended waits.
"The Hospital Group is reminding members of the public to consider their care options before presenting to the ED.
"We advise that the public only attend our emergency services if absolutely essential. If you are unwell, please go to your GP or pharmacy in the first instance. However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.
"We apologise to any patients who are experiencing long waits, while we prioritise the sickest patients."