Responding to Health measures announced in Budget 2022, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said that not enough detail has been outlined by the Minister and his Department in relation to the allocation of spending for the year ahead.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Despite lengthy press statements from the Department of Health today, we are still none the wiser as to what the €22.2 billion allocation to the Department of Health will mean when it comes to recruiting additional nurses and midwives, how much has been allocated to implement the Safe Staffing and Skills Mix Framework, or how much will be allocated to pay student nurses and midwives a proper wage.
“We know that there has been an underspend of over €800 million in the Department of Health this year. It is surprising to our organisation that there can be such a huge underspend in the Department of Health when we have record numbers of people on trolleys since the beginning of the pandemic and nurses and midwives who are completely burnt out with little to no reprieve from juggling COVID and non-COVID related care.
“We need funding to implement the framework, which determines the safe levels of nurse to patient ratio following on from Budget 2022, just like we have a pupil-teacher ratio that advises on the optimum number of children in a classroom to one teacher. We are hearing examples in our hospitals of one nurse to fifteen patients in a ward. This is not a safe environment for the nurse or patients.
“It is baffling that two days after the announcement of the Budget, that we don’t have details on the exact number of nurses and midwives the Government intends to hire in the year ahead. We know exactly how many teachers, gardaí, SNAs and other public sector workers will be recruited next year.
“After all the kind and soothing words about the work of student nurses and midwives, Budget 2022 is silent on the matter of their pay. The Minister for Health has had the independent report by Seán McHugh on student pay since the 12th of August 2021. It is not good enough that after two months of consideration of the recommendations that the report hasn’t been published or any of its recommendations were not identified in Budget 2022.
“The lack of detail on Budget 2022 coupled with an underspend in the Department of Health of over €800 million is a real cause of concern. The union will now seek to meet with Minister Donnelly to outline are concerns particularly on safe staffing and student nurses’ pay.”