Sunday 18 August 2019

More staff needed to roll out HPV vaccine for boys - unions

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Unions representing doctors, nurses and other workers vital for the planned roll-out of the HPV vaccine for boys in September warned yesterday more staff are needed.

It follows revelations in the Irish Independent that the extension of the vaccine - which prevents cervical cancer in women and reduces oral cancers in men - is at the centre of an industrial relations row with the HSE.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: "The HSE committed to a national agreement to appoint 160 public health nurses in 2019, roles which would be central to this vaccine extension.

"They are now reducing this number to 98 sponsored positions, despite having received 284 applications.

"This vaccine extension certainly can roll out but it requires additional staffing, rather than reductions in the workforce"

The INMO issued a joint statement with the Irish Medical Organisation and Fórsa.

The unions said they remain fully committed to the roll-out of the vaccine to boys.

"We were at the forefront of seeking the extension of the vaccination to boys, as individual unions, and also as part of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions," they said.

However, "there is an issue in respect of adequate staff numbers to provide the extension."

They pointed to the HSE "recruitment pause" as well as an acute staffing shortage. The roll-out will mean additional workload.

The matter was the subject of a conciliation hearing on June 18 at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The HSE is due to revert to the WRC within three weeks.

The HSE claimed industrial relations issues "have been addressed".

Irish Independent

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