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Picketing officially began this morning for the nurses' strike, which is only the second time in 100 years that the group have carried out work stoppages.

According to The Journal, three-quarters of Irish people support the nurse's 24-hour strike, which is being carried out over an apparent recruitment and retention issue.

Nurses and midwives across the county will be out on the picket line today, fighting for pay and better working conditions at hospitals and private clinics nationwide.

Nursing unions are seeking pay parity with other health service grades, such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has announced that talks which were held at the Labour Court on Monday night did not lead to any breakthroughs.

The INMO has over 40,000 members, and announced the strikes earlier in January. Over 90 percent of members which were polled voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot held in November.

According to nurses, increasing their pay is the only way to retain nurses, and this would improve working conditions, as well as the recruitment and retention crisis among members.

The government has expressed it's concern over pay rises for nurses outside of the broader public sector pay agreement reached last year, and has refused to give in to the nurses' demands.

The strikes have gone ahead after the Labour Court claimed it would not intervene in the dispute in a formal way, as the government are anxious that other industries will also request pay rises if the nurses obtain their requested 12 percent rise.

A Claire Byrne LiveTheJournal.ie poll of 1,000 adults by Amárach Research found huge support for the nurses' action, with 74 percent of participants expressing agreement with the 24-hour strike. 

Only 17 percent said no, while 9 percent were unsure.

Members of the public have been requested by the HSE only to attend emergency services in hospitals if it is totally necessary.

Liam Woods, HSE national director of acute operations, commented; “We would appeal that patients would only attend the emergency services if absolutely essential."

In emergencies, there will be an emergency response, and any patients whose appointments or surgeries have been cancelled will achieve priority in the weeks following the strike.

The INMO has also said that further strikes will take place on the February 5 and 7, and then February 12, 13 and 14 if an agreement cannot be reached. 

Feature image: Limerick Leader

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Temple Street Children's University Hospital has claimed that a shocking 842 children who were attending its Emergency Department in 2018 were living in emergency accomodation, or didn't have a fixed address.

This means that there has been a 29 percent increase in the amount of patients who are being discharged into homelessness in Dublin, and one-quarter of the children were under one year old.

In 2017, the number of children discharged from ED who had no fixed address was 651.

The majority children last year presented with medical ailments such as chest infections, seizures, asthma, high temperatures and vomiting.

On the other side, 23 percent of children presented with trauma such as head lacerations, burns, self-harm and hand and arm injuries.

In the final three months of 2018 alone, 260 children attended Temple Street's Emergency Department without a fixed address.

Head Medical Social Worker at Temple Street, Anne-Marie Jones commented on the situation, condemning it as "shameful";

She said: "When these children leave our ED, they stay in temporary accommodation with cramped conditions and no appropriate cooking, washing or play facilities."

She added; "This results in accidents or traumas that wouldn’t normally happen if these families were housed in a family home.” 

Dr Ike Okafor, Emergency Medicine Consultant , meanwhile, argued that children's recovery is massively affected by their living situation.

Dr Okafor claims that; "There are children where you do what you can do in hospital, and then you hope they'll go home and recover."

"But these accommodations aren't conducive for recovery for some of the conditions – so they're not the ideal," he said.

He described cases of children undergoing surgery and then having nowhere to go from there, as well as incidents involving children being assaulted trying to find accommodation.

The most recent official homeless figures from November show there were 3,811 children in emergency accommodation that month.

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