2011 is just one month old yet it already seems to have brought with it a torrent of bad news and a multitude of challenges. In the year to date, we have already had increased levels of taxation, reductions in social welfare spending for the most vulnerable in our society and the threat of an early increase in mortgage interests rates.
In relation to the health service, and our specific world of work, the year has already seen record, and intolerable, levels of overcrowding in the country’s emergency departments, while more than 1,600 beds (both acute and non acute) remain closed across the country. We have also had an unprovoked, unjustified and cruel attack on the pay of working fourth-year student nurses/midwives and the continuation of the nonsense that is a recruitment moratorium that affects frontline staff striving to provide safe care.
As if all of these problems were not enough we have, again since January 1, effective inertia within government. There is more focus on games of golf, fancy dinners and foreign phone calls than on looking after essential public services and ensuring our young people are educated, our sick and infirm are cared for and our poorest have enough money to live on. Since the new year, the INMO has publicly stated that the severe problems facing our health service are as a direct result of political indifference and neglect. The fixation on political self preservation, so readily apparent in recent weeks, only confirms this analysis.
The first days of the new year, with 569 people on trolleys in EDs, the scandalous attack on student pay, the savage increase in VHI fees and the nonsense of closed beds and staffing restrictions, saw the health service in absolute crisis. Yet all we heard from our Minister for Health, who has since resigned, was that she was on a private holiday and that it was ‘a matter from the HSE’.
Frankly, this is not good enough. It demonstrates the political indifference and neglect that has been the hallmark of this government, with regard to the health services, for the past two years. The belated ministerial comment, in the middle of January, that the IMMO figure of 569 was wrong and that the actual figure was 414 simply beggars belief. If the only explanation you can provide, to those ill and vulnerable people on trolleys, is that the INMO figures were wrong (which they were not) then it is time to consider what vision you have for the public health service and to ask if you are protecting the ill and most vulnerable.
Against the background of such developments, it is my firm belief that the only way we should respond to all of these difficulties and challenges is by showing support to, and solidarity with, each other. Through this collective strength we can and will protect individual practice and the professions of nursing and midwifery. When times are at their most grave it is only through unity of purpose, and adding the energy of each individual member to the effective strength of 40,000 plus members, that we can ever hope to ensure that nurses and midwives can deliver safe care in an environment which is acceptable, while protecting ourselves from further attacks upon our terms and conditions of employment.
Support and solidarity equals strength and in the face of all of these unprecedented developments the INMO will support you, the INMO will stand solidly beside you and together, with our unrivalled strength, the INMO will ensure nurses and midwives and nursing and midwifery prevails.
General Secretary, INMO
|Editorial - Support and solidarity equals strength|