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Media Watch - Midwifery staffing levels hit headlines

Ann Keating reviews media coverage of the INMO in recent weeks

The Limerick Post reported on concerns about midwifery staffing levels on August 31 – Midwives concern over Limerick staffing levels.

The article read: “Staffing levels in Limerick’s maternity hospital are causing huge concern with the HSE being shackled from hiring midwives, medical sources have revealed. There are currently up to 60 nursing positions unfilled between the maternity hospital on the Ennis road and the University Hospital, Dooradoyle… Sources say that while the HSE is doing all it can to fill the gaps with agency staff ‘the shortage of skilled, experienced midwives is a real concern’.“

“There is a staffing level below which there is real concern for safety… The revelations came in the wake of a new report which shows that pregnant women and their babies do better when they are cared for primarily by midwives.

“The study… by Prof Declan Devane, School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, examined and reviewed models of care where midwifery-led services are in place. It identified that midwife-led continuity of care was associated with several benefits for mothers and babies.

“Welcoming the findings, the INMO said: ‘Our concern is heightened by members now confirming that, on a daily basis, they are very worried about safety due to inadequate staffing levels, and this must be of utmost concern to the employer.’

“Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO director of industrial relations, has long sought implementation of safe staffing levels within midwifery and promoted the role of the midwife in respect of care to mothers: ‘Midwives are calling for independent risk assessments to be carried out in their current work locations in respect of staffing levels and believe that their practice cannot be compromised because of the introduction of staffing reductions by the HSE.’

“She added that studies such as this assist in giving an independent opinion as to the benefit to the patients under the care of the HSE in respect of midwifery led care.

“‘The HSE should take this study’s findings into account when developing policy in relation to maternity care, but must immediately move to minimise and reduce all factors which interfere with provision of best care, especially inadequate staffing levels that exist in our maternity services today.’”

Tallaght Hospital
Nurses sign disclaimer over staff shortage fear was a headline in The Herald (August 31). “Nursing staff at Tallaght hospital have filed ‘disclaimer forms’ with the director of nursing because of critical staff shortages at the hospital.

“Last weekend, the Clinical Assessment Unit was forced to close for a period due to the shortage of personnel. It is understood that the limited numbers arise from the hospital’s decision to cut back on agency staff to save money. Nurses have been advised by the INMO to file disclaimer forms, where their ability to deliver safe care is challenged.

“The INMO advises members to submit forms to their line manager whenever they believe their ability to provide safe care is compromised. Nurses at Tallaght Hospital say they are doing extra shifts to cope and are so busy they are unable to claim the time-in-lieu back.”

Liam Doran in leadership
The Nationalist Carlow (August 20) ran the headline – If you’re looking for leadership, talk to a male nurse. The paper was reporting on a new book from Oak Tree Press, Leadership in Action ll, which profiles 19 Irish men in leadership positions who began their careers as nurses and who now lead major academic, health, social enterprises or businesses.

These include: Seamus Cowman, professor of nursing and head of department at the Royal College of Surgeons; Liam Doran, general secretary of the INMO; and Peter McLoone, former secretary general of the trade union, IMPACT.

The article read: “Oak Tree Press believes that these stories of success will help not only students in nursing but also future leaders in other disciplines to ‘chart new courses in their life’s work and to build on the holistic, caring, interpersonal skills that are at the core of their nursing preparation.”

“According to the publisher, ‘this book is a testimony to the 19 Irish men who made a difference in society through their significant leadership contributions, and a book that can be used to teach aspiring leaders’.” (www.oaktreepress.eu)

The Irish Examiner (August 3) reported on new Department of Justice figures on physical abuse suffered by essential frontline workers – Emergency workers attacked ‘every 30 hours’.

“The equivalent of one frontline emergency worker providing vital help to the public is assaulted once every 30 hours – the highest rate in half a decade.  The worst rate occurred in 2011, the most up-to- date information available, when 309 people tasked with providing life-saving help were attacked by members of the public – the equivalent of an assault every 30 hours.’

“While the Department of Justice said the figures are ‘provisional’, as it takes time for cases to pass through the courts, the details also show only a small percentage of the most recent cases lead to conviction.”

“Violence against healthcare staff has been flagged as a problem for almost a decade, with ambulance personnel and the INMO repeatedly raising the issue as a major cause of concern to them.”

Ann Keating is the INMO media relations officer email: annkeating@eircom.net

Media Watch - Midwifery staffing levels hit headlines
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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie