Ms Mary Leahy, Public Health Nurse, Doughiska Primary Care Centre, Galway was elected 1st Vice President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) at the recent Annual Delegate Conference in Killarney.
Mary has been an INMO activist since her student days. She is currently Vice Chair of the Organisation’s Public Health Nurses Section and she is also Chair of the Galway Branch. Mary has been a member of the INMO’s Executive Council for the past four years and will now serve as 1st Vice President for the 2016-2018 period.
Mary has worked in a large variety of posts as a nurse, midwife, practice nurse and public health nurse in both Ireland and the UK. She trained in Galway where she worked as a staff nurse and midwife before gaining further experience in Wales and London. She returned to work in Galway as a Public Health Nurse where she is a member of a busy Primary Care Team.
Mary has been elected 1st Vice President 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.
Nurses and midwives have experienced a sustained crisis in all of our workplaces over the last number of years with increasing evidence of burnout, stress and low morale. One of the key demands from delegates at the INMO’s recent Annual Conference was the restoration of pay and working hours due to the severe recruitment and retention problems facing the professions.
The INMO recently launched a report on ‘Missed Care- Community Nursing in Ireland’ by Dr Amanda Phelan and Ms Sandra McCarthy, UCD which points to the lack of necessary reform in community nursing. This has led to a service which is struggling to meet the demands from challenges including a changing national demographic, earlier acute care discharges, more complex case management and moratorium consequences. Arising from her vast experience in the community, this issue of “missed care” will be a priority for Mary in her role as 2nd Vice-President.
Speaking following her election Mary said:
“One of my aims, during my term of office, will be to continue to highlight and reinforce the need for sustained investment in our public health service. The lack of proper funding has severely hindered nurses and midwives in the delivery of care both in hospitals and in the community. A fit for purpose health service is essential and it is vital that investment is made now and into the future to ensure that a world class service can be delivered to all those who need it.”
Ms Leahy continued:
“I am delighted to have been elected 1st Vice President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation by my colleagues. There is currently very low morale among our members who are struggling to provide care in all areas of the health service against a background of severe staff shortages, closed beds and inadequate community services.
I feel strongly that nurses and midwives are highly qualified professionals who work extremely hard, always advocating in the best interests of our clients and patients. In that regard, I intend to be a strong and vocal advocate for our members and I look forward to the challenge.”