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Members Update - 22nd May 2020
Preventing a return to overcrowding, ealth and safety under COVID-19

Update issued - 

Dear Member, 

It is nearly three months since the first case of COVID-19 arrived in Ireland. The necessary pace of change in our health service and wider society has been without precedent.

How the INMO delivers services to members has changed too. We have increased workplace supports to members and are now offering online webinar courses. The first of these is on Tuesday 26 May and focuses on COVID-19 and the care of older person services. The event is free for INMO members and you can register here if you want to participate.

Over the next week, we will continue meeting with the HSE and will meet directly with the Minister of Health on further childcare arrangements. We will also be meeting with the Department of Public Expenditure and Public Reform next Tuesday to discuss broad public sector pay issues, as part of ICTU’s public services committee.

Below are four quick updates on key issues the INMO has worked on this week:

1. Preventing a return to overcrowding

We have joined with the doctors and consultants of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine to issue a joint call to stop overcrowding once again becoming a feature of our emergency departments, hospitals, and wider health service.

You can read the full joint statement here, but we are essentially calling for :

  • Retention of access to private hospitals until a vaccine is secured,
  • Immigration and travel priority for migrant health professionals,
  • A commitment that no recruitment embargoes will apply to doctors or nurses,
  • Extra priority and decision-making powers in the community to avoid unnecessary emergency department referrals,
  • working group to urgently look at staffing issues in the health service.

Unifying with other professions and groups only adds strength to our calls, and we will seek to work with other health professionals over the coming months.

2. Health and safety under COVID-19

Nearly a third of all COVID-19 positive cases are healthcare workers – roughly a third of whom are nurses or midwives. Some of this worryingly high figure is doubtlessly down to higher testing rates, but it is clear that healthcare workers are facing great risk of infection due to their profession. This is simply unacceptable.

Working with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, we have raised this issue at MinisterialHSE, and Health and Safety Authority (HAS) levels. In particular, we are seeking HSA investigations into each new COVID-19 case among healthcare workers, to understand what lead to the infection, then taking actions to resolve the problem. We have also sought more specific statistics to more precisely identify exactly where and how these cases are occurring.

3. Implementation of the strike settlement

Pressure to finally implement the strike settlement pay awards in full is bearing fruit. We have had this issue raised repeatedly in the media, workplaces and in the Dáil. This pressure, along with work from IROs at every workplace, will see thousands receive the pay they are owed in May, with more in June. We will continue to pursue those employers who are dragging their heels on this matter.

I would strongly encourage all staff nurses and midwives to apply to join the Enhanced Practice salary scale. The contract has been forensically analysed and negotiated: it should present no difficulty for any member and results in substantial pay improvements. If they have not done so already, all staff nurses and midwives should apply to join this scale and get the higher pay they are owed.

I will write with further information on other aspects of the strike settlement as we get it.

4. New graduation and the new pay scale

That same advice applies to recent graduates. If you have qualified since 2019 and have completed 16 weeks of work post internship (including pre-reg experience), under the strike settlement you get to skip the 2nd point of the salary scale and progress straight to the 3rd point, worth €32,734 in basic salary. If you qualified in 2018 and are still on the 2nd point, you get to skip the 3rd point, go straight to point 4, and can apply for the Enhanced Practice contract and pay scale. You may also be entitled to the new medical/surgical ward allowance.

Many of you will have moved up the scale and had the location allowance applied automatically but be sure to check with your payroll/HR department. If you have any questions, please contact your local IRO, the INMO Information Office (01 664 0600 (Mon-Fri)) or INMO Student/New Graduate Officer Catherine O’Connor: catherine.oconnor@inmo.ie.

Finally, today (22nd May) marks the fifth anniversary of the marriage equality referendum. That day marked a major step forward for our country and I am proud of the role this union played in securing a yes vote. We send our ongoing love and solidarity to LGBTQ nurses in Ireland and around the world.

Is mise le meas,

Phil Ni Sheaghdha
General Secretary, INMO

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie