The INMO met the HSE and Department of Health today (Friday) in an effort to avert a strike by nurses and midwives over unsafe levels of staffing.
A members’ vote on strike action is set to begin in ten days’ time - from the 19th of November. The INMO have deliberately left this two-week cooling off period to allow the employers to make realistic proposals to avert a dispute.
The INMO expressed disappointment that no proposals were made at today’s meeting, but reaffirmed that they are available to meet any day before balloting begins. The Department of Health and HSE today committed to further meetings.
Nurses and midwives have expressed repeated concern that pay is too low to recruit and retain enough staff for safe care. Government proposals to resolve the issue were rejected as insufficient by 94% of INMO members in a vote last month.
Ireland’s public health service now has 2,600 fewer nurses and midwives compared with 2007, while demands on the health service has increased significantly.
At the meeting, the HSE and Department of Health confirmed that recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives remains a major difficulty.
Immediately after the meeting, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Nurses and midwives are immensely dedicated professionals and our concerns deserve to be taken seriously. We will not stand by while patient care is compromised due to understaffing. The HSE simply cannot hire enough nurses and midwives on these wages.
“In ten days’ time, our members will vote on whether to go on strike. This is not a decision that any nurse or midwife will take lightly.
“We have been clear with the HSE and Department of Health today, setting out the areas where they should focus in order to avert this dispute. We remain available for discussions each and every day until balloting begins.”