This submission emphasised the urgent need to correct nursing and midwifery pay in order to stem the difficulties in retention and recruitment within the professions. The Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) terms of reference require them to conduct a comprehensive examination and analysis, taking into account the full range of causal factors underlying difficulties in recruitment and retention in nursing and midwifery. The Commission are also required to generate options for resolving the issues identified.
As members are aware the INMO successfully negotiated that nursing and midwifery recruitment and retention difficulties would be the first to be examined by the Public Service Pay Commission, and on completion of this examination, that the public service employers and staff representatives would meet within four weeks, of receipt of the report, from the PSPC, to consider proposals.
At 8.30 a.m. this morning, Tuesday, 15th May 2018, the INMO presented supplementary oral evidence to a full meeting of the Commission. As part of this submission the INMO emphasised:
- the assurances within the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 - 2020 (PSSA) giving protections from knock on claims, were the Commission to recommend pay adjustments;
- the clear timelines that were set out in the clarification notes of 27th June and 4th August 2017, for implementation of any recommendations from the said Commission;
- the ongoing, and continuing, difficulty in growing the nursing and midwifery workforce, as recorded in the Final Report to the Minister for Health from the independent chairman of the Nursing and Midwifery Group - confirms that despite best efforts of the HSE, the target growth during 2017 of 1224 whole-time equivalent was not met, 69% of this target i.e. 847 whole-time equivalents was achieved by December 2017. However, the January 2018 census illustrated a further reduction due to resignations;
- the INMO referenced census and salary comparisons and these can be accessed here
- the INMO also confirmed and advised the PSPC that recently, on the public record of the Dail, the Minister for Health confirmed that recruitment and retention, in nursing/midwifery, is at a crisis point and therefore that argument is closed. We now need to deal with corrective measures as opposed to arguing whether or not there is a crisis;
- the INMO demonstrated that the recently launched Framework for Nurse Staffing gave clear evidence of the benefits to patients and to cost savings of nurse staffing levels being determined in a scientific manner. The INMO further referenced the need to substantially grow the nursing and midwifery workforce in order to implement the Maternity Strategy and the Health Service Capacity Review 2018, which recommends expansion of hospital and community services; and
- the INMO presented evidence of the current high costs associated with not addressing the retention problems e,g. the costs of overseas recruitment and the increasing agency spend which is now exceeding €1.2 million per week.
In closing the INMO reiterated its consistent position that nursing and midwifery are the lowest paid professional grades in the Irish public health service. This is a determining factor in nurses and midwives deciding to work in other jurisdictions where pay and conditions are superior. Nursing and midwifery are global professions, Ireland is losing the battle to retain and recruit these professions. There is now an opportunity, within the PSSA procedure, to correct this pay inequality for these female dominated professions and this opportunity should not be wasted.
The Public Service Pay Commission advised that their report will issue in July.
PHIL Ni SHEAGHDHA