A strike by emergency department nurses in seven hospitals, including at Cavan General Hospital, may yet go ahead next Tuesday (January 12) after a ballot of Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) members rejected proposals set out by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The industrial action, a series of rolling two-hour stoppages in the seven hospitals, which had been planned for last month but averted following eleventh-hour interventions, is in reaction to a number of immediate measures local hospital departments, including overcrowding and understaffing.
The strike will see nurses completely withdraw from emergency departments in the affected hospitals.
The INMO say there were 516 people on trolleys in hospitals around the country on Monday last, and today (Tuesday, January 5) there were 15 people on trolleys at Cavan General Hospital.
According to INMO figures, there were more patients on trolleys at Cavan General Hospital in the month of November this year than for the entire last six-months of 2014.
A total 172 patients waited for treatment at Cavan General in November last year, compared to just for 164 between July and December 2014.
The news of a potential work-stoppage comes despite assurances by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar that everything was being done to open additional beds where possible and to alleviate overcrowding at hospitals.
Mr Varadkar acknowledged that the festive period was the busiest two-week period in the year, and advised people to avoid attending emergency departments unless their illness was life-threatening or urgent.
He has also repeated an earlier statement that hospitals will not be punished for overcrowding in their emergency departments. Instead, fines will be imposed on hospital which fail to follow procedures and systems to alleviate overcrowding.
This follows last month's introduction of an escalation policy by the Emergency Department Taskforce, which aims to limit the time spent by patients on trolleys to just nine hours.