Proposals on way to avert industrial action by nurses

INMO bristle over long-running problem of staff recruitment and retention in service

INMO chief Liam Doran said “we are 3,500 nurses short and our members have had enough”. Photograph: The Irish Times

INMO chief Liam Doran said “we are 3,500 nurses short and our members have had enough”. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

The HSE and Department of Health are to put forward written proposals by the end of next week for dealing with the problem of recruiting and retaining nurses in public hospitals.

Health service management met on Thursday with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) for talks aimed at averting threatened industrial action on these issues.

The parties are to hold further talks on January 23rd.

The INMO executive will meet on Monday and Tuesday to consider progress in dealing with recruitment and retention problems.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said he would be presenting details of the talks to the union’s executive next week and it would have to decide whether to allow more time for discussions.

In December members of the INMO voted by more 90 per cent in favour of industrial action over recruitment and retention of nurses.

Arriving at the talks on Thursday Mr Doran said the health service was in crisis.

“We are 3,500 nurses short and our members have had enough. They are broken to the bone and no respect is being shown to them.”

Meaningful steps

He said the union had a strong mandate.

“The ball is very much in the court of health service management to show they are going to take real and substantial and meaningful steps to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

“They have to demonstrate how they are going to recruit. Offering posts and hoping nurses are going to appear is not going to resolve it. They are going to . . . address that issue.”

The INMO wants health service management to put in place “special measures”, including financial incentives to encourage nurses working elsewhere to take posts in the public health system and those already working there to remain.

A spokesman for the HSE said on Thursday: “The HSE met with the INMO this evening to discuss a number of issues raised by their members. Both sides had a meaningful engagement and a number of proposals are under consideration by the HSE.”

The talks on Thursday were delayed for a number of hours as the INMO maintained the HSE had to fulfil promises to restore a time-and-one-sixth premium payment for nurses for working between 6pm and 8pm.

This payment was to be reintroduced – retrospectively to last January – as part of a previous deal under which nurses agreed to take over some tasks previously carried out by doctors.

Long-running problem

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he hoped that industrial action could be averted and that there is an onus on all parties to find a solution to the recruitment and retention problem.

“It is not in the interests of any patient or any part of our health service to have any industrial unrest at what is an extraordinarily challenging time for the health service with the volume of people relying on health services,” he said.

“I am very pleased that the engagement is taking place today with the INMO. I think it is really important that all parties – and I include my own department in that – show real willingness to try and find solutions.

“The discussions today are separate and distinct to the broader public pay issues that my colleague Paschal Donohue deals with. They are specifically to do with recruitment and retention; I am hopeful we can have a fruitful and meaningful discussion on the issues.”