There are currently 2,664 fewer nurses and midwives working in the Irish public health service than there were in 2007 and low pay is to blame for this, it has been claimed.
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Emergency Departments (EDs) alone currently have over 200 nursing vacancies. It insisted that low salaries has led to an inability to recruit and retain these professionals.
However, launching its pre-budget submission, the INMO insisted that this problem can be solved if the Government gives nurses and midwives ‘the pay rise they have earned'.
"Our health service simply doesn't have enough staff. Nurses and midwives remain the lowest paid healthcare professionals and the combination of low pay and poor working conditions are driving away nurses and midwives, many of whom are forced to move overseas or leave the profession.
"If this continues the HSE will not be able to maintain services, let alone consider service expansion," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
The Government's recent Health Service Capacity Review found that an additional 1,200 hospital beds are needed to meet demand, but the INMO emphasised that this is not possible until more nurses are recruited.
"Ireland's population is growing, but our health service isn't keeping pace. The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to prioritise the introduction of measures that will address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing and midwifery. If they fail to address nurses' and midwives' pay, they will have missed an opportunity to protect the health service into the future," Ms Ni Sheaghdah said.
She added that the next Budget is a ‘litmus test to see if ministers are serious about fixing the health service'.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.