Overseas nurses asked to share a bed because of accommodation crisis - INMO

Medical shift workers will not be able to do their jobs properly if they cannot get proper sleep, union warns

Nurses recruited from abroad are being requested to share rooms or, in at least one case a bed, with strangers as a result of the housing crisis, the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) has said.

Nurses and midwives recruited from abroad are provided with accommodation for their first six weeks in Ireland, as part of their agreement to work in the State.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO general secretary, said the accommodation being offered to some overseas recruits is “appalling”.

“Two nurses who had never met before were told that the only accommodation that the agency could source was a double bed. Three nurses who had never met before were offered three single beds in the one room,” she said.

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“These people are working shift. If you don’t have suitable accommodation that will let you get proper, restful sleep during the day, you’re not going to be able to do your job properly.”

The issue of accommodation becomes more pressing after the initial period, Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.

“When the six weeks are up, they’re on their own and have to find their own accommodation. Imagine you’re only six weeks in the country, and you have a job, but you’ve nowhere to live.”

The housing crisis is not only affecting international recruits, but also those who have trained in Ireland, the INMO found.

“One of the new graduates who just got a job in St James’s said the only accommodation she can get is going to see 47 per cent of her salary gone. Her net salary. She’s on a small wage, she’s on €32,000 a year. That’s before you get your transport, your food, and everything else,” she said.

The INMO warned that, if the supply of affordable accommodation is not addressed, it will mean beds being closed due to staff shortages.

Delivery risk

The union is the latest body to speak out about the impact the housing crisis is having on staffing levels. Earlier this week, six trade unions issued a joint statement warning that the delivery of education “is now fundamentally at risk”.

The statement was signed by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Fórsa, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, SIPTU and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, all of which represent about 110,000 members working in schools, colleges, and education centres across the country.

“This year we have seen schools and colleges struggle to recruit and retain critical staff, citing severe difficulties in relation to the availability and affordability of accommodation,” the unions said in their joint statement.

“The effective delivery of education is now fundamentally at risk if we don’t take steps to tackle the chronic housing challenges we are facing.”

The statements come in advance of Saturday’s Raise the Roof public rally for housing, which seeks secure affordable “homes for all”. The coalition is meeting at Parnell Square at 1pm to protest over the issue.

Earlier this week, the Taoiseach said the Government is on target and likely to exceed the target in its Housing for All plan this year. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said €4 billion was allocated to deliver housing this year and a further €4.5 billion will be allocated next year.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times