Staffing policies 'fatally flawed' warns INO

The Irish Nurses' Organisation (INO) has called on the Government to use the expected increase of €1 billion in public finances…

The Irish Nurses' Organisation (INO) has called on the Government to use the expected increase of €1 billion in public finances to ease the growing pressure on overcrowded hospitals.

In its pre-Budget submission the INO claimed staffing policies were fatally flawed with thousands of nurses leaving the country to work abroad.

INO general secretary Liam Doran, said the available funds should be ploughed in to address the continuing inadequacies and inequities in the sector.

"The Irish health service continues to be too small and unable to deal with the demand being placed upon it," Mr Doran said.


"The INO continues to support the previously identified requirements for 15,000 acute beds and we cannot concur with Professor Brendan Drumm's view that additional beds are not required.

"Ultimately everyone agrees that first class primary care services reduce the need for acute hospital beds but in their absence, coupled with our growing population, there is, in our view, an absolute need to have a total of 15,000 acute beds available as soon as is possible but within 5 years at the latest."

The INO noted that 11,000 Irish trained nurses had left the country in the last seven years with more than 3,000 foreign trained nurses recruited in the first 8 months of this year.

Mr Doran said nursing and midwifery vacancies had increased by 31 per cent to over 1,100.

The INO called for extra funding to provide an additional 500 acute and 500 continuing care beds by 2006. And the organisation demanded the Government re-affirm its commitment to provide a total of 15,000 acute hospital beds within five years, with 50 primary care teams in urban areas next year, make medical cards universally available for all children.

Mr Doran added: "There is no excuse whatsoever, in the light of the dramatic improvement in the public finances, for the Government not to undertake major investment in the public health service which continues to suffer overcrowding and inadequate infrastructure.

"The failure of the Government to fully fund its 2005 capital-building programme, when you have patients on trolleys, overcrowded wards and inadequate primary care units is simply bewildering for staff and the patients who rely upon the public health service.

"It is again a question of a government making choices and implementing priorities. Future generations will not forgive this generation if we do not utilise the available resources for the health and well-being of everyone who is living in this thriving, dynamic economy."

The INO said steps should be taken to promote healthier living through legislation providing zero tolerance for drink-driving, a ban on pub happy hours, stricter policing and enforcement of road safety and prosecution of persons who assault healthcare staff in hospitals.