The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), In the face of severe overcrowding in hospital wards and Emergency Departments, is disappointed and frustrated at the lack of any specific actions, in the HSE’s Service Plan for 2017, to address the severe shortage of nurses and midwives.
The INMO believes that frontline services are now being operated at dangerously low staffing levels as a result of this chronic shortage of frontline nurses and midwives. In recognition of this reality the Service Plan for 2017 should have contained measures which would recruit, and retain, sufficient numbers of nurses and midwives to provide safe care to all patients/clients. It is particularly disappointing to see that no attention was given to the fact that we continue to have 3,500 less nurses/midwives working in the service today as compared to 2008.
The only acknowledgement of this severe staffing shortage is the mention of a recruitment initiative between Christmas and the New Year. As was the case with previous such initiatives, this will fail in the absence of a realistic, competitive, incentive package capable of attracting nurses and midwives into the Irish health service and the existence of a working environment which allows all nurses/midwives practice safely in a workplace which also respects their health and safety.
The INMO notes, and welcomes, the Service Plan contains commitments to expand certain services. However, it fails to recognise that existing services cannot be maintained (i.e. 150 beds currently closed due to staff shortages) and offers no explanation as to how the staff, for any expanded service, will be found.
In particular, the INMO notes, the absence of any initiative, within primary care, to increase the supply of public health nurses, and community specialist nurses, to provide all required services for people wishing to stay in their own home and avoid admission to hospital.
The INMO also welcomes the specified funding for disability services contained within the Service Plan. However, questions still exist about recruiting the required number of Registered Nurses in Intellectual Disability (RNID) into these services to optimise the potential of all service users at all stages of their life cycle.
Speaking today, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:
“This Service Plan, which involves €13.9 billion of expenditure, was an opportunity to address continuing service deficits, primarily arising from staff shortages. In the context of the reality, in the frontline, it is very disappointing that the plan fails to recognise the deepening crisis with regard to staffing and to prioritise measures to address this crisis.
To suggest that we can expand, or create, new services while failing to acknowledge the staffing shortages in existing services is a grave disappointment.”
Mr Doran concluded:
“The INMO will, tomorrow, announce the result of our national ballot of members, on the issues of staffing/recruitment/retention and the plan unveiled today fails to prioritise these critical aspects of our public health service.”