Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, after negotiating all day, the acting directors of the National Hospital of Iceland decided to cancel their plans to modify the shift arrangements for nurses and X-ray technicians. Consequently both groups withdrew their resignations.
“All of our demands were met; the new shift arrangement plans were scrapped, as they represented a set-up that we really didn’t want to adopt,” Elín Ýrr Halldórsdóttir, spokesperson for surgical nurses, told Morgunbladid. “We consider this an absolute victory.”
The new EEA standard shift arrangement was supposed to take effect yesterday, but was met with strong opposition from surgical and aesthesia nurses and X-ray technicians at the National Hospital. They felt their views were being ignored, and declared that they would resign at midnight on Wednesday.
The directors of the hospital then offered to postpone changing the arrangement of their shifts until October 1, but the 96 nurses and 52 X-ray technicians were still dissatisfied and remained determined to walk out at midnight. The National Hospital had prepared a special emergency plan.
Finally, after the two acting directors announced that the new shift arrangement “was no longer up for discussion” a vast majority of the nurses and X-ray technicians decided to stay and the emergency plan was aborted.
“A certain amount of damage has already been done, but Iceland is no longer in a state of emergency,” said Erla Björk Birgisdóttir, also a spokesperson for surgical nurses. “The surgical wards will not be fully manned […] and we will have to work overtime to fill the gaps left by those who resigned.”
Minister of Health Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson and Björn Zoëga, one of the National Hospital’s acting directors, said that they were satisfied with the conclusion to the debacle. A new shift arrangement will now be developed while taking the views and experience of employees into consideration.
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