Ms Martina Harkin-Kelly, Specialist Co-Ordinator/Nurse Educator, CNME, Sligo/Leitrim & West Cavan, HSE Cregg Campus, Co Sligo was elected President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) last Friday during the Annual Delegate Conference in Killarney.
Martina, who has over 30 years’ experience as a nurse, has served on the INMO’s Executive Council for the past four years and was 2nd Vice President since December 2015. She will now serve as President for the 2016-2018 period. She has been actively involved in the INMO for many years and has wide experience from a local perspective, having been a local rep for 15 years and chair of the Sligo Branch for 4 years.
Martina takes over the helm at a very critical time in the Irish public health service where nurses and midwives have, over the last number of years, suffered a pay reduction of up to 16%, the loss of 5,200 posts and an increase in working hours, all of which have led to a crisis in recruitment and retention. Delegates at the Annual Delegate Conference last week called for pay restoration and a 37 hour working week in line with all other professional health service staff.
Following her election, Martina has already prioritised her key objectives, during her Presidency, as being:
• A National Health Summit with all stakeholders involved in order to gain consensus on the shape, structure and funding of a public health service fit for purpose;
• Early, positive movement on pay and working hours due to the severe recruitment and retention problems facing the professions;
• A campaign for additional beds, staff and services right across the healthcare system; and,
• Zero tolerance of verbal or physical abuse of staff in all care settings.
Speaking following her election Martina said:
“I am extremely honoured to have been elected President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation by my colleagues and am delighted to take up the baton for the next two years.
There is currently an overwhelming feeling of disquiet among members due to their pay and conditions. Not only can we not recruit nurses and midwives from abroad, we are losing members who have many years of experience on the frontline. This is due to the ongoing impact of wage restraint where members find the cost of living extremely difficult to manage. The cost of renting a house or apartment has increased enormously and the cost of buying a house is now out of reach for most public servants.”
Ms Harkin-Kelly went on:
“I intend to be a strong and vocal advocate, on behalf of members and patients, demanding a clinical environment where safe practice can be delivered by our members and safe care for our patients can always be maintained.
The recent conference clearly identified our agenda, for the next year, and I will begin immediately, in conjunction with incoming Executive Council, to implement the agenda given to us by over 340 delegates at last week’s Annual Conference”