No agreement in nurse staffing talks

Industrial action looking more likely
  • Deborah Condon

Talks between nurses and Government officials on the staffing crisis in hospitals nationwide have adjourned without agreement.

The talks, at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Tuesday, involved the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, SIPTU and officials from the HSE, the Department of Health and the Department of Expenditure.

However according to the INMO, it was clear at the talks that health service management ‘had no funded workplace plan to address the current unsafe staffing levels'.

The organisation insisted that this is compromising patient care and impacting on the health, safety and morale of frontline workers.

"Health management, while acknowledging the crisis, confirmed no resources were available to address the current situation. The INMO and SIPTU said this was totally unacceptable and, if allowed to continue, the crisis surrounding the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives would only deepen," the INMO said.

The management side that it would attempt to produce a funded plan for staffing levels by Friday (January 27). However, it refused to commit to restoring staff numbers to 2008 levels. Official figures from the HSE show that there were 3,200 fewer nurses and midwives by the end of 2016 compared to the end of 2007. However demand for health services has risen significantly during these years.

The executive council of the INMO is set to meet on January 30 to consider the situation further.

"The meeting (on Tuesday) was very disappointing and confirmed that health service management are either unable or unwilling to address this crisis on both a short and medium-term basis," commented INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.

He added that in the event that there is no ‘radical change' by January 30, the INMO is likely to sanction its members to begin industrial action, following a recent ballot in which 90% of them voted in favour of such action.


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