As Dáil Éireann returns from its summer recess, Ireland’s nursing and midwifery union, the INMO, has called for politicians to make affordable housing for healthcare workers a priority in Budget 2024 and beyond.
Speaking following a meeting of the INMO Executive Council, INMO President Karen McGowan said:
“We are now reaching another crisis point when it comes to the recruitment and retention of nursing and midwives. A key factor in retaining highly trained Irish nurses and midwives in the public system is the cost of affordable housing. Irish nurses and midwives and overseas nurses who have worked here for a number of years are now voting with their feet and moving to Sydney where they have safe staffing ratios underpinned by legislation; to the USA who are heavily targeting nurses and midwives working in Ireland and to the UK where many cities have a city weighting allowance to help with the cost of accommodation.
“Unfortunately we have seen a dearth of ambition from Government when it comes to bringing bespoke housing solutions for frontline healthcare workers. This is no longer just a Dublin problem, whether you are in Donegal, An Daingean, Douglas or Dundalk, our members are reporting that housing close to healthcare settings is no longer affordable.
“As a working nurse in a busy Dublin hospital, my colleagues and I are hearing of young nurses leaving to move home to their parents or to pastures new in the UK and Australia on a weekly basis. We cannot afford to be losing such talented young professionals from our hospital system.
“With no end in sight to the housing crisis, there is nothing to tempt these young nurses home. We need the Government to spell out exactly what it is going to do to make housing affordable for healthcare workers while also introducing new laws to underpin the safe staffing framework, as the two go hand in hand.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha added:
“The Executive Council of the INMO made up of twenty-two working nurses and midwives from different types of care settings from every corner of the country have made it clear today that they expect meaningful action from the Government when it comes to making housing affordable for nurses, midwives and other workers who keep our health service going.
“With Budget 2024 and talks on a successor agreement to the current public service agreement being considered , the Government has an opportunity to be ambitious when it comes to retaining young nurses and midwives. The fact that some young graduates are paying over 72% of their salaries on rent cannot go unnoticed by those who have the power to implement change in the housing market.
“If action isn’t taken on housing then unfortunately our already creaking health service will diminish under the pressure.”