The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) today rejected as exaggerated, a report from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, entitled “Estimated Value of Additional Hours Worked”. The organisation, who represent the vast majority of nurses and midwives, confirmed that the imposition of additional hours, under the Haddington Road Agreement, was particularly penal as they have required nurses and midwives to attend work for a minimum of six additional unpaid shifts.
The organisation pointed out that the document itself was produced in the context of negotiations on public sector pay restoration. The figures in the document were contested, at the time, and are highly exaggerated and would not, in any way, deter the INMO from seeking a 37 hour week.
Speaking today, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary Designate said:
“Following a protracted dispute in 2007, our members gained the 37.5 hour week, however, it was applied on a cost neutral basis. In 2013 when the state borrowed additional unpaid hours from public servants, including nurses and midwives, the application of those hours was particularly penal and involved nurses and midwives giving six free shifts to their employer. This situation is untenable in the long term and militates against the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives. Nurses and midwives in the UK are working 37.5 hour a week”.
There is currently a major shortage of nurses and midwives in Ireland and that is a reflection of a general shortage of nurses and midwives across the OECD countries. Ireland depends, to a large extent, on the recruitment of non-EU nurses to compensate for its failure to retain or recruit, according to the INMO, the long hours and low pay for nurses and midwives is forcing nurses and midwives to leave. The HSE have failed to recruit even the numbers required to meet its service plan for 2017.
The recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives is now a priority issue for the Public Service Pay Commission. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary Designate commented: “The achievement of a 37 hour week is very high on the INMO agenda as nurses and midwives are the only professionals in the health service working more than 37 hours per week. The current hours are working as a disincentive and have not impacted on HSE agency costs which have, in fact, increased. The health service are incurring a very substantial agency cost as many nurses cannot commit to the full working week and are forced to work shorter part time hours. In the long run the additional hours have not contributed to savings in the health service but have driven people away from it and left many wards understaffed and under pressure”.