37,000 nurses and midwives have taken to the picket line outside hospitals and HSE facilities.
They are demanding pay increases and government action on staff shortages.
Margaret Frahill, Nurse Manager at Mercy Hospital, Cork, says that when students reach their fourth year in college they are already considering either leaving the country or leaving the profession.
She also says that more experienced nurses are leaving due to stress and burnout.
“The HSE aren’t listening,” said Ms Frahill.
“They know the salary doesn’t relate to other countries. They know we’re leaving in droves.
“Yet they are recruiting from abroad. They are spending €10,000 on a nurse to come in from abroad, from the Philipines or India.”
People are also being advised to only attend emergency departments if it is essential.
“We have to do it. Enough is enough,” said one of the nurses picketing outside Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown in Dublin.
“It’s time that we got our safe conditions, our safe pay and patients and nurses are treated with respect and given fair care and we get the value and appreciation that nurses deserve.”
37,000 INMO members will take to the picket line outside hospitals and HSE facilities from 8am, demanding pay increases and government action on staff shortages.
Nurses and midwives will gather in cold conditions to demand pay increases of around 12% and for the HSE to sort out what they call a recruitment and retention crisis in nursing.
The government says wage hikes for nurses would open the floodgates for others to seek pay claims, and it will not be doing a special deal.
25,000 medical appointments have been cancelled and the HSE is appealing to people not to attend emergency departments unless absolutely necessary.
Dr. Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, says delays in accessing services today are inevitable.
Nurses and midwives are going on strike for only the second time in 100 years.
They are standing up for patients and fair pay.
If you’re near a picket from 8am-4pm tomorrow, drop by and show your support.
Full list of pickets here https://t.co/zbPHTsvcyR pic.twitter.com/KUKj5oJqfq
“People may experience increased delays because other aspects of unscheduled care such as local injury units or acute medical assessment units will not be open,” said Dr Henry.
Further strikes are planned for next week.
As the Labour Court says it cannot intervene in the dispute, it is up to the INMO and the HSE to resolve it.