The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), while noting the overall increase in health funding, for 2017, announced today, believes it will prove wholly inadequate in dealing with the current and growing demand for services.
The increase of €457m, resulting in a total allocation of €14.6bn, must be compared with the excess of €16bn which was allocated to the health service before the economic crash. This stark reality confirms that while the increased funding proposed must be welcomed, after a number of years of repeated cuts, it will not allow the health service to expand and develop existing and new services across the country.
The INMO also notes the proposal to recruit 1,000 nurses/midwives contained within the health allocation. While this is also welcome, after 6 years with a ban on nurse/midwife recruitment leading to a loss of 5,200 posts, two critical questions must be asked namely:
1. Is the recruitment simply an intent to convert existing agency employment which, while correct, will not increase the overall number of nurse/midwife employment in the severely understaffed service? and,
2. In the absence of special measures, to recruit/retain nurses and midwives will the public health service continue to fail to compete with private hospitals and UK employers who are offering recruitment incentives?
It is also disappointing that there appears to be no provision, in today’s allocation, for the additional nursing/midwifery staff, already identified as being required, in a range of areas including:
In view of these many unanswered questions, arising from today’s health allocation, the INMO will now seek an immediate meeting, with the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD, to establish how these serious issues will be positively addressed.
Public Service Pay Commission
The INMO also notes the announcement today of the establishment of a Public Service Pay Commission. It is the view of the INMO that this Commission must facilitate, through an early report, the acceleration of pay restoration to nurses and midwives and other public servants on very average incomes. It is not tenable, or sustainable, for INMO members to have to wait until September next year for the restoration of €1,000, cut in 2009, and until September 2018 for any further restoration measures. The Commission must report swiftly, clearly identifying the labour market realities, with regard to nurse/midwives, which can only be addressed by a significant increase in pay levels.
Speaking this evening, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:
“Any increase in funding, to our under-resourced public health service, must be welcomed. However, the allocation proposed will not enable the health service to meet, safely, the ever growing demand.
The health service still has over 4,200 less nursing/midwifery posts than it had in 2009. It is against this reality that the proposal, without special recruitment and retention initiatives, to recruit 1,000 nurses/midwives in 2017 must be measured.”
Mr Doran Concluded:
“It would not appear, from today’s announcement, that the government is moving to address the severe structural deficits in terms of staffing and capacity, which now exist within our public health service. The INMO will continue with its campaign, commenced last week, aimed at ensuring staffing levels match service activity and no nurse or midwife is left with intolerable workloads and unable to provide safe care.
Against this background we will now seek an immediate meeting with the Minister to discuss, and seek answers to, these critically important issues.
Related to all of this, the government must accept that the current pace of pay restoration, to public servants, on ordinary incomes, is unreasonable and must be reviewed. The Commission, announced today, must be empowered to act swiftly, on this issue, and create the context within which pay restoration can be accelerated and labour market realities acknowledged.”