Budget is “litmus test” for ministers on health service
Citing a projected economic growth of 4% in 2019, the INMO is recommending the government give nurses and midwives the pay rise they have earned,in order to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis in the health services.
There are currently 2,664 fewer nurses and midwives working in the Irish public health service than there were in 2007. Of those over 200 nursing vacancies are in our emergency departments alone and 207 midwives nationally. The INMO blames this on low salaries resulting in an inability to recruit and retain these vital professionals.
The government’s Health Service Capacity Review found that an additional 1,200 beds are immediately required to meet demand, but the INMO says that such an expansion will not be possible until more nurses and midwives are recruited.
The INMO’s submission also recommends that the next Budget include initial funding for Sláintecare, a proposed universal health care system with cross-party backing. The proposed system comes with a recommended transitional fund, €63.5 million of which is to increase hospitals’acute capacity.
Other recommendations include:
• Increasing the number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery training places;
• Increasing the number of Public Health Nurses, who provide care in the community;
• Significantly expanding primary care services as recommended in the Sláintecare Report.
INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said:
“Our health service simply doesn’t have enough staff. Nurses and midwives remain the lowest paid healthcare professional and the combination of low pay and poor working conditions are driving away nurses and midwives, many of whom are forced to move overseas or leave the profession. If this continues the HSE will not able to maintain services, let alone consider service expansion.
“Ireland’s population is growing, but our health service isn’t keeping pace. The Budget is an opportunity for the government to prioritise the introduction measures that will address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing and midwifery. If they fail to address nurses’ and midwives’ pay, they will have missed an opportunity to protect the health service into the future.
“This Budget is a litmus test to see if ministers are serious about fixing the health service. Without funding, Sláintecare report risks becoming just another report gathering dust on a shelf.”