It's shaping up to be a week of discontent in the health service.

The Irish Nurses & Midwives have announced an escalation of their strike action.

Week 2 of the strike will see nurses and midwives taking to the pickets again tomorrow and Thursday, from Tuesday to Thursday next week and again on the 19th and 21st February.

The INMO is also organising a national rally next Saturday, calling for safe staffing levels in the health service through increased pay, to make the profession more attractive.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadker moved to quell fears that the nurses would face financial penalties as a result of the strike.

He said the Government was not planning on implementing pay sanctions.

The Taoiseach said he regrets the enormous inconvenience and disruption being caused to patients who are having appointments or operations cancelled due to the strike.

He said the Government wants to resolve the nurses dispute, but said it can only be resolved within certain parameters.

It's expected all out-patient, in-patient and day surgery appointments will be cancelled tomorrow and Wednesday.

Minor injury units will be closed, while routine community nursing services and health centre nurse clinics will be cancelled.

Public day centres and day hospitals for older people and people with disabilities will also remain closed.

Meanwhile, there may be limited access to GP services on Wednesday.

Hundreds of doctors are taking to the streets of Dublin to march on the Dail in a demonstration over what they claim is the "complete meltdown" of the health service.

Dr Matt O'Toole of the National Association of General Practitioners says they're calling on the Government to immediately reverse cuts that were introduced during the recession. 



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