INMO seeks recruitment of 8,000 extra staff
Union launches campaign for mandatory safe staffing levels on all hospital wards
INMO general secretary Liam Doran promised a sustained campaign on the issue running up to the next general election. Photograph: Pat Moore.
More than 8,000 additional nurses must be recruited to ensure safe staffing levels and avoid unnecessary patient deaths in the health service, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The union has launched a campaign for mandatory safe staffing levels on all hospital wards to ensure “catastrophes” such as Mid-Staffordshire Hospital in the UK, where up to 1,200 unnecessary patients deaths occurred, are not repeated in Ireland.
The INMO is seeking a ratio of one registered nurse to every four patients in busy acute wards and, in maternity units, one midwife to 29.5 births, which it says is internationally recognised as the necessary ratio. The union says current staff-patient ratios in maternity units range from 1:32 in Mayo General Hospital to 1: 55 at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, which is the subject of several inquiries following a number of child deaths in recent years. Ratios at Portlaoise fell to as low as 1:70 last January, the HSE confirmed this week.
The union is looking closely at a campaign run by the New South Wales Nursing and Midwifery Association in Australia, which involved strikes, bed closures and extensive use of television advertising.
The Australian organisation’s general secretary Judith Kiejda told the INMO conference in Kilkenny yesterday their campaign succeeded in having a staffing ratio of one nurse to four patients introduced. More than 1,600 extra nurses were recruited and nurses won a 9.7 per cent pay rise over three years.
The INMO says the staffing situation in Ireland has deteriorated since 2012 and is worse than in the UK. Irish nurses have to look after 1.8 more patients per nurse than British colleagues on early and late shifts, and up to 5.2 more patients on the night shift, according to a study by the organisation.
It says research shows that lower staffing is linked to increased patient deaths, adverse event in poor care and higher nurse burnout and fatigue.
The union wants 1:4 staffing on wards at times of high activity, and 1:7 at night. Care of the elderly facilities should have a 60:40 mix of nurses to healthcare assistants. It has commissioned research to identify and measure the extent of “missed care” in the community.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran promised a sustained campaign on the issue running up to the next general election. He said the “crude, merciless and immoral” recruitment embargo must be lifted immediately to allow for the filling of the 5,000 posts lost to the system as a result of austerity. On top of that, an additional 3,000-4,000 posts are needed to bring Irish staffing levels up to the required minimum.
The conference also passed a motion calling on the Government to repeal the Fempi (Financial Measures in the Public Interest) Act which granted Ministers the power to alter the terms of employment of public servants without consultation.