Restoration of the 37.5 Hour Working Week
The INMO has delivered the 37.5-hour week for nurses and midwives in the public sector. This means that full time staff will have their weekly hours reduced from 39 hours to 37.5 hours with pro rata reductions for part-timers. The 37.5-hour week is to be implemented on July 1st, 2022. Pay will not be reduced.
This is a major achievement for nursing and midwifery and other public servants who mainly voted for the Building Momentum Agreement because of this provision.
Building Momentum also provides for a fund for replacement costs. The INMO has sought that this funding is ringfenced for these replacement costs and is not subsumed into other spending.
A bespoke recruitment and retention initiative is needed for nursing and midwifery and the INMO is pursuing this with the HSE
Stemming the impact of COVID on our health system
At a meeting of the INMO Executive last Tuesday, it was agreed that action must be taken on the overwhelming pressure nurses and midwives are under at this point in the summer due to rising COVID hospitalisations.
The Executive requested that I write to the Interim Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brenda Smyth and the HSE’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Colm Henry on actions we believe that can be taken now to help in the short and long term. You can read the letters in full here
Our key asks include:
We also need to see the number of healthcare workers who are being infected with COVID published by the HSE and HSPC, broken down by profession. We cannot adequately plan for what COVID might look like in our hospitals at what is traditionally the busiest period of the year (November, December January) if we don’t know the scale of the problem now during an abnormally busy time.
Sectoral Bargaining - Nurse Managers pay
As members are aware the sector bargaining clause of Building Momentum is being utilised to correct the anomaly in salary that arose for nurse manager grades following the creation of the enhanced practice salary scale. This differential has been independently verified as 3.28%.
This payment date was set out in BM as the 1st of February 2022 and as notified previously, this date remains the date of payment.
As members are aware and have been previously notified there has been protracted engagement with the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to matters relating to measurement of this payment. The INMO can now advise that discussions have now concluded, it is accepted that this payment is due, that back money will be paid to February 2022. The remaining issue is the detail on the circular giving instructions to payroll departments to pay. We anticipate these matters will be concluded shortly.
Further details will issue to members once these details are clarified to the INMO’s satisfaction.
Special Leave with Pay for Long COVID
The Government has made the decision to not continue Special Leave with Pay for healthcare workers who have Long COVID from July 1st. Prior to this payment being ended, the INMO attempted to meet the HSE at the Workplace Relations Commission on three separate occasions, the employer failed to attend each time.
I’d like to personally thank INMO member Emer Aldridge for so eloquently sharing her experience on Virgin Media last Saturday. You can watch back Emer’s powerful interview here on INMO Twitter Account
Following pressure from the INMO and other healthcare unions, the HSE agreed to meet to discuss a new scheme earlier this week. However, what is being put forward by Government does not go far enough. Healthcare workers with Long COVID went to work and contracted COVID when there were very few protections available to them. Their illness should be treated as nothing less than a workplace injury.
For the Government and the HSE to try to come up with a solution now after the scheme that was in place has expired is nothing short of inexcusable.
We believe that as a matter of urgency, the HSE, Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure should suspend their cessation of the Special Leave with Pay pending discussions between healthcare unions and the employer.
This evening we have received confirmation from the Workplace Relations Commission that they will facilitate a meeting between INMO and the National Joint Council of ICTU healthcare unions and the HSE on Tuesday July 12th This meeting will be chaired by Anna Perry, Head of Conciliation at the WRC. We will keep members informed of the outcome.
Anything less than an Occupational Injury Scheme for healthcare workers with Long COVID will be unacceptable.
Pandemic Recognition Payment
Over 70% of HSE employees have now been paid the Pandemic Recognition Payment. The slow and sluggish nature of the administration of this payment has been a matter raised time and again by the INMO.
Despite numerous direct requests from the unions, the Department of Health has failed to issue a circular to clarify the situation regarding payment of the pandemic bonus to agency, Section 39 and private nursing home staff. Such a circular would release funding for payment for those agency staff who worked in the HSE and Section 38 establishments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The INMO and other healthcare unions have referred this delay to the Oireachtas Health Committee. It is imperative that they compel the Minister for Health to publish details how nurses who worked in private nursing home, in Section 39 or through agency will be paid the long-awaited pandemic bonus.
HIQA report into University Hospital Limerick (UHL)
The recent report by the Health Information and Quality Authority into conditions at University Hospital Limerick echoes the position and concerns of INMO members in the emergency department in UHL.
The HIQA report, published on June 17, lays out a number of critical issues in the hospital and focused on three key issues:
Among the issues highlighted, the report noted significant capacity issues with around 40% of patients in the emergency department being treated on trolleys. The report also highlighted serious staffing issues, with staffing levels described as “insufficient to meet the needs of people attending the department”, leading to a significant impact on safety and safe care.
We have stated that overall, the report reflected our concerns on overcrowding in the hospital which has a significant impact on the retention of nurses in such unsafe workplaces despite the significant recruitment efforts of nurse managers.
Our members have been drawing attention to these issues for years and we requested that HIQA investigate the situation in UHL and they welcome the publication of the report as a first step, but it’s important that it leads to action.
Update on Public Sector Pay Talks
In the last notice to INMO members you would have received, I provided you with an update on public sector pay talks. In this notice I outlined that offers from Government to improve conditions under the current public service agreement, Building Momentum, were not sufficient or keeping up with sharp rises in inflation.
Since talks adjourned on June 17th, the INMO as part of the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has made itself available for talks to resume. However, Government have not returned with a better offer despite public comments from senior Government ministers that this was on the cards.
Nurses and midwives, as with all workers across the country are currently bearing the full brunt of large and sustained increases in the cost of home heating, fuel, food, housing, childcare, and many other essentials.
Any change to the current arrangements will be a matter for you Executive Council to consider and if any input is required from you and your colleagues, you will be immediately notified.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
Building Momentum PSA
Upcoming dates Rep Training
HIQA analysis echoes INMO conerns
HSE Circular, FAQ
Healthcare Workers Updates HSE
mental health collective for INMO members
For INMO Members 1850 670407 or 01 8818047