• An immediate review of pay, working hours and staffing levels will top the agenda
The 97th Annual Delegate Conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will see approximately 350 nurses and midwives gather in the INEC, Killarney, Co Kerry, tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, for the three day event.
This year’s conference has as its theme ‘Registered Nurses & Midwives – Professionals in Action – Making the Difference’. This reflects the urgent need to examine the pay of all nurses and midwives in the context of the expansion of roles, the increased responsibility and the higher levels of autonomy that are now an everyday reality for every nurse and midwife.
Against the background of nurses and midwives having suffered a pay reduction of up to 16%, the loss of 5,200 posts (almost 13% of those working in the public service) and an increase in working hours, delegates will be calling for pay restoration and a 37 hour working week in line with all other professional health service staff. The need for early, positive movement on pay and working hours is vital due to the severe recruitment and retention problems facing the professions.
As Ireland is now the fastest growing economy in Europe, nurses and midwives, like all other public servants, want an acceleration in the restoration of their pay and other terms and conditions which were attacked during the “Emergency”. During the recent general election campaign outgoing Ministers, including the Minister for Finance, repeatedly stated that this ‘Emergency’ was over and economic recovery was underway. INMO members want to see this recovery reflected in their take home pay and staffing levels restored to allow them to provide safe care to their patients in a properly functioning health service and this will be a central issue at this week’s conference.
Conference will also see debate on motions such as: an immediate national summit with the Department of Health and HSE regarding the crisis in Primary and Social Care sectors; HSE to accept responsibility where care cannot be delivered in a timely manner in unsafe working environments; whole hospital overcrowding; a 5-year plan for the health service; putting open disclosure on a legislative footing and the establishment of a National Health Economics Forum to agree a long term funding model for a world class health service.
On Wednesday morning the INMO will release trolley/ward watch figures for the first four months of 2016 and, separately, figures for April 2016 compared to previous years.
Speaking on the eve of the INMO’s 97th Conference, Claire Mahon, INMO President, said:
“We will be calling on the new government to initiate a national debate on health, which will look beyond the normal five year electoral horizon, to determine how we want our health service to serve us, both now and for the next 25 years.
We will be calling for a universal healthcare service, funded by progressive taxation, which is efficient, effective and which treats everyone equally, with access being determined by need and not ability to pay. The recent findings, from the Irish Cancer Society, regarding access to diagnostics once again confirms the current inequalities which can influence life expectancy. This is immoral, wrong and must end.
Over the next three days, delegates will set the agenda for the next year as they proceed with the continuing challenges which face members on the frontline and demand early restoration of pay, working hours and conditions.”
Speakers at the conference are as follows:
- On Thursday, May 5 at 11.45a.m. Edward Mathews, INMO’s Director of Regulation and Social Policy will present the INMO’s Health Policy ‘Excellence in Healthcare’ for discussion/adoption
- At 1.00p.m. on Thursday, May 5, INMO President, Claire Mahon will address delegates
- At 2.30p.m. Mark Loughrey will give a presentation on ‘Nurses & Midwives in the 1916 Rising’
- At 6.00p.m. – Motivational Speaker, Gerard Moran will give a keynote address
- On Friday, May 6, the Minister for Health, Mr Leo Varadkar TD will address the conference at 12 noon
Almost 70 motions are up for debate over the 3 days (available on www.inmo.ie) and the following are some of the other issues included, as well as those already mentioned above:
- A review of the expanding role of the nurse/midwife
- Implementation of the National Maternity Strategy
- Restoration of the previous age entitlement to the state old age pension
- Renegotiation of revised sick leave policy
- Appointment of a full Cabinet Minister to implement the National Positive Ageing Strategy
- Zero tolerance for verbal or physical abuse
- Forced redeployment
- Scope of Practice
- A number of motions on the NMBI
- Clerical and admin support
- Workplace assaults
- Protected study hours
- Protection of the clinical learning environment
- Proper recognition and services for persons with an intellectual disability
INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran commented:
“The 97th Annual Delegate Conference will see a demand from members for the pay and conditions of nurses and midwives to be addressed as a priority for any new government. The Commission on Public Service Pay, being referred to in the current discussions between possible government partners, must have the power to initiate positive changes to the current pay and conditions of our members.
The current slow pace of restoration of pay is neither fair, reasonable nor sustainable in the context of an economy which is growing at up to 7% per annum. In nursing and midwifery, unlike other areas of the economy, the need for early, positive movement on pay is vital due to the severe recruitment and retention problems facing the professions.
It is not just that we cannot attract and retain new graduates; the reality is that we continue to haemorrhage colleagues, with nurses and midwives with three, five, seven and greater years’ experience growing tired of pay cuts, long hours, excessive workloads and a general approach from management which ignores these realities.”
Mr Doran concluded:
“At this conference, and in the context of a growing economy, we will unite in pursuit of the goal of fair, proper and appropriate pay for every nurse and midwife in this country. This must reflect their role, their responsibility and the international labour market in other countries so that we can attract, retain and reward nurses and midwives here in Ireland.”