The INMO has welcomed the start of long-awaited consultation on the HSE’s Winter Plan. The plan was published today (Thursday).
Consultation on the plan with trade unions in the health sector began yesterday (Wednesday), with health service management emphasising that further local consultation is required.
The INMO flagged its disappointment that the plan does not significantly increase health service capacity or deal with understaffing.
The INMO has previously criticised the HSE for the late publication of the plan, contrasting it with the NHS’ publication in September. In previous years, the HSE published their Winter Plan well before December.
Winter plans aim to deal with expected spikes in demand on Ireland’s hospitals in winter. Every winter in the past decade has featured significant overcrowding, and 2018 has seen new records set each month for the number of patients waiting on trolleys.
Over 100,000 people have been forced to wait on trolleys this year – a record first. INMO analysis shows that overcrowding is typically bad in December, but worst in January and February.
INMO Director of Industrial Relations Tony Fitzpatrick said:
“Overcrowding isn’t just a winter problem anymore, hospitals are over capacity every day of every season, and the problem is getting worse.
“It’s clear from our initial consultation that the draft Winter Plan will not increase capacity at all this year and only modestly next year.
“The government accept that we need to grow the health service’s capacity, but extra beds require extra nurses. Without addressing pay, our health service will simply not be able to attract enough nurses and midwives.”