1 in 6 staff midwife posts unfilled
1,317 funded nursing and midwifery posts are left vacant in Ireland’s acute hospitals due to the HSE’s recruitment ban, new figures from the INMO show today (Friday).
Across staff nursing and midwifery in acute hospitals, 7% of funded posts are vacant, with 1,251 vacancies out of 17,623 posts.
There are also 66 unfilled nurse/midwife management roles in acute hospitals.
Separately, there are 420 vacancies in the community health services, which covers care of the elderly, public health and intellectual disability.
Midwifery staffing hit hardest
1 in 6 (17%) funded staff midwife posts are now vacant, with 284 vacancies in a workforce of 1,687.
In 2017, the HSE had pledged to increase the number of midwives from 1,409 by 210 by the end of 2018 to ensure safety levels. As of July 2019, the number of midwives has gone down to 1,403.
The INMO points to the HSE’s recruitment “pause” as the key driver of unfilled posts. The union met with the HSE on Friday evening to call for curtailment of services until staffing reaches safe levels.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“The figures are stark: the government are refusing to fill frontline healthcare posts.
“Make no mistake: this will lead to compromised patient care and staff burnout.
“Midwifery is being hit particularly hard by the government’s recruitment ban. 1 in 6 posts are left vacant. Even if we filled all of these posts, we would still fall far short of the safe staffing levels promised by the government.
“Midwifery vacancies disproportionately affect women. This is yet another unwelcome example of government’s approach to women’s health.
“Graduating nurses and midwives are considering their employment options as we speak. Yet despite repeated public promises from the Minister for Health that they would all have full-time permanent jobs upon graduation, the majority have not received offers or contracts. Irish graduating nurses and midwives are now being turned away from understaffed hospitals.
“The recruitment ban has got to go. It breaches agreements with the INMO, drives up agency costs, puts frontline staff under extra pressure, and puts patients’ lives at risk.
“Until we can get staffing up to safe levels, we are calling on the HSE to scale back services and close many non-essential wards.”