Wednesday 18 September 2019

Nurses and midwives will strike next year if pay and conditions are not tackled, INMO warns

Survey finds 71pc of final year nurses are considering quitting Ireland to work overseas

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha. Photo: David Conachy
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha. Photo: David Conachy

Ralph Riegel

THE Government were warned they face industrial action by Irish nurses and midwives next year unless urgent action is taken to tackle long-standing pay and working condition grievances.

The warning came as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed that pay rates and working conditions are now such a chronic problem in Ireland that 71pc of final year nurses are considering quitting Ireland to work overseas.

The survey - conducted for the 99th annual INMO conference in Cork - also revealed major problems within the public health sector.

Conducted over all Fourth Year 2018 Irish nursing students, the study found:

  • 60pc are considering leaving the public health sector for the private health sector.
  • 57pc of nursing graduates have already been approached by overseas nursing companies.
  • 18pc have been offered permanent contracts by the HSE.
  • 79pc cited pay and working conditions as vital to retaining their services.
  • 76pc said staffing levels are inadequate to support proper nurse training in the clinical setting.

INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said that pay and working conditions now dominated all nursing discussions.

"Our members will not accept any further delays in addressing these two fundamental issues," she said.

"The Public Service Pay Commission are due to issue their recommendations at the end of May or early June.

"The INMO has been invited to attend before the committee on May 15 to elaborate on the written submission which we made in November last year.

"We believe the evidence of low pay affecting nurses and midwives decision to leave the Irish public service is very real and a cause of major concern to the INMO."

INMO General Secretary Phil NI Sheaghdha warned that nurses will not accept excuses over failing to tackle the pay issue.

"There is no doubt that the issue of correcting the pay gap that now exists for our members is top of the list," she said.

"The pay gap is having a real and sustained affect on the ability to recruit and retain nurses and midwives and therefore growing the service for the future is simply not going to be possible."

The INMO boss warned that nurses and midwives will no longer tolerate difficult working conditions in Irish public hospitals which are stretched to the limit.

The prospect of industrial action in 2019 cannot be ruled out.

"Major investment is needed in order to recruit and retain nurses and midwives so that the recruitment and retention issue can be resolved once and for all," she said.

She warned that Irish hospitals are now "over-crowded and under-staffed" with unacceptable pressure being exerted as a result on staff.

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