Nurses back Oireachtas committee call for safe staffing levels
The INMO has backed a call from the Oireachtas COVID response committee for regulated levels of safe staffing in nursing and midwifery.
The committee published an interim report today, which recommended that:
“Regulations regarding staffing and staff ratios in nursing homes need to be strengthened in order to protect patient health and to prioritise the setting of nurse to patient ratios in line with best practice.”
The INMO backed the recommendation, calling for the scientifically based Safe Staffing Framework to be funded and rolled out across all nursing services in the country.
The Framework, which has been trialled successfully in Irish acute hospitals, sets safe staffing numbers for nurses and healthcare assistants based on the number of patients and their specific needs.
When trialled, it was found to reduce costs, virtually eliminate the need for agency staffing, improve patient outcomes, drastically reduce patient mortality, and improve staff and patient morale.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“The Oireachtas committee is absolutely correct in its recommendation on staffing. For decades, staffing levels in the Irish health service have been based on historical levels.
“A ward would have staff based simply on what they have had previously, rather than patient needs. Whether we are facing a second wave or not, Ireland needs to set staffing levels based on evidence, not history.
“We have a framework to do this. The system has been proven to work. It is government policy. It has Oireachtas backing. Now it’s time to actually fund and implement it.
“I’m grateful to the Oireachtas committee for listening to the INMO and our members in making their recommendations.”
The INMO also backed recommendations in the Oireachtas interim report which called for:
• a review of staffing and employment practices (including pay) in private nursing homes
• a shift towards independent living for the elderly, away from congregated care settings where appropriate
• at minimum no reduction in public or voluntary health service capacity.
The full interim report from the Oireachtas COVID-response committee is here
Recommendation 14 specifically looks at regulating safe staffing levels.

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