Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have voted, by a margin of 82%, to accept proposals to begin addressing the staffing/recruitment/ retention crisis in nursing and midwifery.
Under the agreed proposals, management have committed to: increasing the nursing and midwifery workforce in 2017, with 1,208 additional permanent posts; maternity leave cover in accordance with the funded workforce plan; offering all graduating nurses and midwives full-time contracts; a career break scheme; the introduction of a pilot pre-retirement initiative; 130 additional undergraduate places in 2017; and to offering nurses and midwives improved educational opportunities and career pathways.
Health Minister Simon Harris said "I am delighted that the INMO nurses and midwives have voted to accept the recent proposals agreed at the WRC.
"The measures that were proposed by management and agreed with the INMO and SIPTU Nursing will significantly improve the staffing of nursing and midwifery posts in the public health service and offer serving and new nurses and midwives enhanced opportunities to advance their careers."
Speaking this afternoon, INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said: “Our members, in accepting these proposals, are stating quite clearly, that they represent just the first step, in a three-year programme, which must see nurse/midwife employment levels increase to over 40,000 from its current level of 35,600.
"Our members have also said to us, in the many workplace meetings that have taken place over the past three weeks, that, in addition to these measures, the issue of pay must be prioritised, progressed and addressed as part of the public service pay talks scheduled for May.
"The Organisation will now prepare for these talks and the government must now move from simply talking about the recruitment/retention crisis and agree concrete measures, which must involve pay, when we engage with them in May”.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran, commenting on the outcome, said: “The last three weeks has seen the Organisation engage with thousands of members, in workplaces, across the country.
"The pressure upon our members, due to staffing shortages, was again brought forward at every meeting.
"These proposals now fall to be implemented, overseen by a joint high level group, who must ensure nationwide roll out immediately.
"The pay of nurses and midwives now moves front and centre. The forthcoming talks must result in direct engagement on the obvious need to significantly improve the pay of nurses/midwives.
"The Government must act and the May talks provides them with the opportunity as nurses/midwives will not wait any longer."