The HSE is failing significantly to provide a safe environment for our patients and a safe working environment for our staff,” Jenny Moloney of the Kilkenny Branch told delegates in a call for the government to lift the recruitment embargo immediately.
“Current practice in our hospitals is unsafe, undignified and a breach of our professional code of conduct,” she said. “Overcrowding is the norm. The sickest patients often occupy areas on extra beds and trolleys, and the most junior staff are often left alone, even at night time, to care for these complex, vulnerable and acutely ill patients.
“Nurses and midwives are duty bound to provide a safe environment for the patient. Our governing body demands we follow best practice guidelines. Our working environment does not allow for this. When things go wrong, despite our best efforts, we have to justify our actions.
Ms Moloney called on the HSE to become involved in, and support, a shift towards a safer, more patient-centred care structure.
Supporting the motion, Jennifer Bollard, Dublin East Coast and Executive Council, said: “As nurses and midwives we strive on a daily basis to provide safe care and best practice. But to do this we need safe staffing levels. Over the past five years, there has been a loss of over 5,000 nursing and midwifery posts, with over 850 in the past year.”
She called on the government to “lift the recruitment embargo now and not when there is a complete and utter breakdown. Research has shown that, in the absence of registered nurses and midwives, patient outcomes are compromised and care is compromised. We need safe staffing levels to maintain safe care, to maintain a safe working environment.
“The recruitment embargo was a blunt and forceful instrument with no planning or consideration for patient safety.”
Also supporting the motion, Eileen Healy, Executive Council and Ballina/Belmullet Branch said: “The eroding of the public health service is damaging, corroding and indefensible. It is leading to worsening and negative outcomes and increased risk to all our patients. We call on the HSE to lift this recruitment ban so that safe standards and safe care is provided in an environment where nurses and midwives can practise safely.”
Following the motion being carried unanimously, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO director of industrial relations, updated delegates on the INMO’s current claim on the moratorium in the Labour Relations Commission. This claim is based on the fact that while recruitment of nurses and midwives has been non-existent since 2007, that didn’t mean that they were not needed on the frontline, she said. Agency personnel are being used instead of the HSE directly employing the personnel at a cost of €84 million a year.
“It is very clear that it is not financially sensible to workforce plan this way. The frontline care is being provided in a more expensive way and that makes absolutely no sense. Workforce planning is non-existent in the HSE and in the public health service.
“We understand that a moratorium was set . We understand that the troika came and said reduce public service numbers. What we don’t understand is how it was applied and we don’t believe that the troika said to them ‘apply a moratorium that will cost the country more money’.
The INMO will be back in the LRC this month on this claim.
“Rest assured that this union will do everything in its power to emphasise to government that the moratorium is crippling the health service and it’s crippling the manner in which nurses and midwives can provide a safe service.”
|ADC - Moratorium ‘crippling’ the health service|