A midwives’ word-to-rule strike which began at midnight last night has put added strain on the maternity and outpatient wards at the National University Hospital of Iceland. The hospital’s Director Páll Matthíasson says staff numbers in the maternity ward are below safety limits. The strike is the result of a ten-month-long wage dispute between the Icelandic Association of Midwives and the government, which has led to over 20 midwife resignations.
“It was a difficult night, both in the maternity ward and the outpatient ward where the resignations have had the greatest impact,” Páll said in a radio interview this morning. “It was a very difficult night there, a lot of stress and few midwives working, about half of how many there should be under normal circumstances. What has now been added is that the work-to-rule strike has had an effect on the birthing procedure.” Páll added that some labour inductions scheduled for today may be postponed due to the situation.
As to why an agreement has not been reached in negotiations or why the next meeting was not scheduled earlier than Monday, Páll stated he did not have any answers. He described the situation at the hospital as a crisis that cannot be allowed to continue for long.