Sunday 19 November 2017

Nurses vote for industrial peace - for now

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospitals have been assured of industrial peace for now after a majority of nurses voted to accept a deal on recruitment and retention measures.

They voted by 82pc to accept the settlement proposals which led to the postponement of a work-to-rule by nurses last month.

The ballot result was announced by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation today.

However, they warned that this is just a “first step” and a pay battle will now get underway as part of the wider public service talks.

Today’s result paves the way for a range of measures to trigger to alleviate the shortage of nurses.

These include:

•  increasing the nursing/midwifery workforce by over 1,200, to over 37,000, before the end of this year;

•  a funded workforce plan to be subject to quarterly reviews under Ministerial order;

•  the offering of permanent posts to all nurses/midwives, currently on panels, and all nurse/midwife graduates from 2016/2017;

•  increased incentives to attract Irish nurses/midwives back from overseas particularly the UK;

•  the restoration of allowances, removed from new entrants, as part of the forthcoming public service pay talks; and

•  restoration of the time plus one-sixth premium payment, for nurses working in Older Person/ID services, following determination by an independent chair.

INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said:“Our members, in accepting these proposals, are stating quite clearly, that they represent just the first step, in a three year programme, which must see nurse/midwife employment levels increase to over 40,000 from its current level of 35,600.

In relation to the ongoing labour market challenge the INMO has noted the recent independent survey findings, released this week, which again confirm:

•  one in four nurses/midwives, currently working in the health service, are actively looking to leave;

•  the lengthy delays in filling vacant posts despite public competition; and

•  the ongoing haemorrhage of Irish educated nurses and midwives to overseas countries, including the UK, despite the uncertainties created by BREXIT.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran added: "The last three weeks has seen the Organisation engage with thousands of members, in workplaces, across the country. The pressure upon our members, due to staffing shortages, was again brought forward at every meeting."

These proposals now fall to be implemented, overseen by a joint high level group, who must ensure nationwide roll out immediately.

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