Siptu calls for public inquiry into staff levels
Union’s delegate conference hears frontline staff ’depleted’ as bureaucracy grows
Patricia King, vice-president and Jack O’Connor, president, of SIPTU at the Biennial National Delegate Conference of Siptu at the Mansion House in Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.
Siptu has called for a public inquiry into the reduction in the number of frontline staff in the HSE, which it says is endangering patient health.
Delegates at the union’s biennial conference in Dublin were also told that Siptu members must be prepared to resist privatisation of the national ambulance service, and be vigilant about the prospects for their pensions.
Calling for a public inquiry into the “depletion of staff in frontline health services”, Mary Durkin of Siptu’s nursing sector said patient health was being “put in jeopardy” because of staff cuts, “while at the same time bureaucracy in health services continues to grow”.
She said studies had shown that while staffing levels and spending cuts had affected services to patients, the number of HSE managers had increased.
A further change that would have a significant downside for patients was the privatisation of the National Ambulance Service, the chairman of the Irish Ambulance Representative Council Peter Wray said.
He said staff had endured reductions in take-home pay and changes to their roster, and there was a danger of gaps in service. He said the Government was able to install a taxi regulator to control the age of taxis, “while saying nothing about the age of emergency service vehicles”.
Seán MacGabhann of Siptu’s health section said the authorities had been “wasting tax-payers’ money” on outsourcing. He said Minister for Health James Reilly had told the Dáil that outsourcing costs for residential support were €52 million, outsourcing nursing was costing €7 million and the cost of outsourcing home help was €43 million.
Siptu vice-president Patricia King told delegates there was a crisis in defined benefit pension schemes, which had serious implications for workers’ retirement incomes.