I am writing to update you on three key issues we have been working on over the past weeks.
1. Implementation of strike settlement
Following members’ vote in May to accept Labour Court proposals, we sought an immediate implementation plan from the government.
The proposals will see expanded and higher allowances for staff nurses, midwives, CNM1s, CNM2s and PHNs applied retrospectively to the 1st of March 2019. This will be accompanied by a new enhanced nurse/midwife scale, with improved pay for staff nurses and midwives.
The delay to date is unacceptable and we have pursued the implementation of this agreement with the HSE, Department of Health, Department of Public Expenditure and others including the Labour Court over the past weeks. These parties have confirmed that the agreement is accepted on their side. An implementation plan is now at completion stage between Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure and reform.
We have been assured that circulars (documents instructing pay roll departments to give effect to pay increases) will issue this week, however at the time of writing we have not yet received them.
Meanwhile, we are working directly with the Department of Health to establish the expert group that will review pay in managerial grades and other professional issues, within the timeframes set out in the Labour Court recommendation. As we advance this, we will report back to you with further updates.
2. Recruitment "pause"
As part of ongoing financial difficulties, HSE management have imposed what they call a "recruitment pause". From speaking with reps and members around the country, we know that this pause is causing grave difficulty for frontline staff and negatively affecting patient care.
We have spoken with Directors of Nursing/Midwifery across the country to assess the problems caused by this policy. On the 5th of July, we met Paul Reid, the new director of the HSE, and his team. We left him in no doubt as to our concerns, particularly relating to the real risks posed to frontline services and our members by this pause. We have issued further correspondence today to HSE and have raised the issue publicly via the media. You can see our letters to the HSE here: 28/6/19, 9/7/19 and 16/7/19.
We have also raised this matter with the Minister for Health, as we know that such a policy impacts patient care and undermines safe staffing agreements and the government's repeated commitment to offer every graduate a permanent contract. We have sought the full exemption of nursing and midwifery services from this pause.
Until this issue is resolved, we have advised the HSE that nurses and midwives – at any grade - cannot be held clinically accountable for problems arising from this utterly counterproductive and regressive approach to frontline services.
The Industrial Relations Officer for your area is in contact with Directors of Nursing and Midwifery on this issue and we would welcome any further information you have on delays with appointments, procedures and non-filling of frontline posts as a result of this pause.
We will keep you informed of the HSE’s responses and on any further action required on this issue.
3. ANP/AMP pathways
A key part of our recent settlement was to substantially increase the number of Advanced Nurse and Midwife Practitioners. We set a target of 2%, of our workforce to be ANP/AMPs, compared to the 0.2% in 2016.
Following intensive INMO input, the Department of Health last week launched an implementation policy, which allows nurses and midwives to progress to the ANP/AMP level much faster - within two years. This will not only be good for patient care, but is a real boost to our profession, offering greater opportunities for career progression in nursing and midwifery. The full policy document is available here.
ANP and AMPs are paid on the same scale as Assistant Directors of Nursing (Band 1). Candidates for the role are paid as CNM3s. These pay scales were secured by INMO action, including a case before the Labour Court.
PHIL Ni SHEAGHDHA