Tuesday 24 April 2018

Minister Reilly gets silent treatment at nurses conference

Health Minister Dr James Reilly
Health Minister Dr James Reilly

Greg Harkin

Health Minister James Reilly has been given the silent treatment at a nursing union conference today.

Some delegates at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) wanted to greet Dr Reilly with red cards.

But most of the 350 delegates chose to stay silent as the Minister arrived to speak at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny.

However he did managed to get a chuckle when he told them that he had been careful getting onto the stage “as I didn’t want to lose my step”. The minister slipped up earlier this week while traversing a small bridge at a children’s play area in an Enniskillen hospital.

Dr Reilly also made a surprise announcement, telling delegates that he plans to appoint a Chief Nursing Officer in his Department to give nurses a voice at the heart of health policy.

The Minister told the delegates: “Pay savings have to be made – we are between a rock and a hard place.”

He said he wanted to reach agreement with nurses on savings rather than imposing them and he welcome the fact the INMO is continuing discussions with Labour Relations Council.

Dr Reilly praised riled nurses by claiming the number of patients waiting on trolleys was down by 24pc, delegates shouting ‘no’ from the floor.

Earlier union president Claire Mahon told the Minister of the deep feeling of anger among nurses and midwives at the prospect of more cuts to salaries.

The Minister's announcement of the new nursing role at Assistant Secretary level was warmly welcomed.

But the delegates booed when Dr Reilly made a comment as he left the hall.

A nurse began singing Enough is Enough.

Dr Reilly remarked: 'stick to the day job."

Nurse reacted angrily, heckling as the Minister left the room.

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