The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has today published its pre-budget submission for 2023. The union which represents 42,000 nurses and midwives has said that urgent action must be taken as part of the budgetary process to tackle the years of under-funding, under-staffing and under-resourcing exposed by the COVID pandemic.
Key asks in the INMO’s Pre-Budget Submission for 2023 include:
· The Report of the Expert Review Body on Nursing and Midwifery must be implemented fully to show commitment and support to the future of nursing and midwifery professions in Ireland.
· All nurse staffing must be underpinned by the Framework Model for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix.
· The Framework must be funded, underpinned by legislation and expanded across the health service - Implementation must be faster and focused on completion of phase 1, which must be rolled out by year-end 2023. Phase 2 (Emergency Departments) must also be implemented across all the 29 emergency departments before the end of 2023.
· The recommendations of the Health Service Capacity Review must be implemented, and bed occupancy reduced to 85%.
· For Sláintecare to deliver a universally accessible health care service for all, it must be enshrined in legislation. The Government must clarify the sustainability and long-term future of Sláintecare and commit to multiannual funding.
· There must be zero tolerance for overcrowding in our hospitals and emergency departments.
· The physical and mental health of nurses and midwives working in hospitals and community settings must be a priority for the HSE and other health employers.
· Funding must be provided to establish a health service division within the HSA to ensure adequate protections for nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers in response to the increase in workplace assaults, burnout and occupational infections.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Since the Dáil broke up for its summer recess, 11,275 people have been without a bed in Irish hospitals. Unless there is meaningful action on staffing, bed capacity and using the capacity of private hospitals, we are in for an extremely bleak winter. The Minister for Health must prioritise the publication and actioning of a fully funded winter capacity plan in tandem with Budget 2023.
“Many healthcare workers have been infected, are now getting re-infected and suffering from long COVID, without adequate response from the Government.
“Government must prioritise an occupational injury scheme for nurses and midwives with long COVID, and introduce robust screening, ventilation to ensure clean air, and infection control measures across the health service and society.
“We also need to urgently fund and implement the Framework for Safe Staffing across acute hospitals, emergency departments, community and care of older persons. Delays to this implementation have a direct impact on how quickly and how well patients recover from illness, and how safe our members are at work. It needs to be funded, implemented and legislated for as a matter of urgency.
“Emphasis must be placed on ensuring that publicly delivered care of the older persons services are implemented. An over-reliance on the private for-profit model is failing our ageing population. Continuing to rely on the private sector alone, which Government and the HSE have long championed is not a sustainable option. When devising Budget 2023, Government must be ambitious for our care of the older person services, as recommended by both Sláintecare and the COVID-19 Committee. This can only be done with investment and strategic long-term planning.”
INMO President Karen McGowan said:
“A priority in this budget needs to be recruitment and retention. We simply can’t afford to let things get worse for nurses and midwives.
“We have an ageing workforce in the midst of a global nursing shortage. There isn’t an endless supply of people who are willing to work in Irish hospitals, particularly in unsafe conditions. Keeping trained staff in Ireland is a real problem and one that needs to be taken seriously.
“The government and the health service need to urgently make workplace health and safety a top priority for if they want to retain our current workforce and recruit the next generation of nurses and midwives.
“Budget 2023 must focus workforce planning, healthcare staff safety and measures to reduce the disgraceful overcrowding that has been dragging down our health service for far too long.”