The HSE’s Winter Plan will “simply not work” without extra nursing and midwifery staffing, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warned today.
The union welcomed additional funding and planned bed capacity increases, but cautioned that any extra capacity requires extra staffing.
The HSE’s Winter Plan contains a variety of targets but does not set out how many extra staff will be hired to achieve them.
The INMO has been seeking a funded nursing and midwifery workforce plan from the HSE since January and has referred the lack of engagement on the matter to the Workplace Relations Commission.
The union points to an already-strained workforce, which has worsened due to staff on sick leave or in self-isolation due to COVID infections. The Ireland East group, for example, currently has 400 nursing vacancies unfilled over its twelve hospitals.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“Without a plan for extra staffing, the winter plan will simply not work. Extra hospital beds are much needed, but they are meaningless and dangerous if not properly staffed and resourced.
“For months now, we have sought a funded workforce plan from the HSE, setting out how many nurses and midwives they intend to hire in the health service. We are still awaiting any engagement – something we have referred to the WRC as a dispute.
“This Winter Plan brings welcome investment, but absolutely zero clarity on how we will recruit and retain the staff to provide care.
“The HSE says it will take a zero-tolerance approach to overcrowding, yet trolley figures continue to grow.”
INMO President, Martina Harkin-Kelly, said:
“Our members will be scratching their heads over the lack of staffing detail in this plan. How can we set a target for extra beds without saying how many extra staff will be hired?
“Before the election, political parties committed to specific numbers of extra nurses and midwives. Nurses and midwives are seeing their numbers depleted due to COVID infection, self-isolation, and childcare, yet there are no clear staffing commitments in today’s plan.”