Nurses to discuss state of health service

Hundreds of nurses will today voice their concerns about the state of the health service.

The Irish Nurses Organisation’s (INO) annual delegate conference opens in Cavan, with some 380 delegates set to debate more than 50 motions.

Outstanding pay issues and a lack of confidence in the Health Service Executive’s performance will be top of the agenda.

The INO, which represents 40,000 nurses and midwives, said members will also air their anger at health service cutbacks and call for all health service unions, and community groups, to unite in a campaign of resistance.

The organisation said the conference was being held against a background of a public health service facing severe cutbacks, unresolved pay issues for nurses and midwives and a lack of confidence in the HSE’s ability to manage a quality assured health service.

Health Minister Mary Harney, Heather Smith, President of the Canadian Nurses Union, and Rebecca O’Malley, who used her own experience as a breast cancer patient to launch a campaign for better care, will address delegates.

The conference will also receive an update on the introduction of the 37.5-hour week, for nurses and midwives, from June 1 2008, and the work to date of the Commission on the Introduction of a 35-hour week for nurses and midwives, chaired by Professor Tom Collins, which is due to report later in the year.

INO General Secretary Liam Doran said the agenda undoubtedly confirmed the huge level of frustration currently being experienced by members.

“I have no doubt the conference will see very strong debate on many of the motions which centre upon how our health service is currently run, the absence of real reform where it matters, with the patient, and an overall lack of confidence in the HSE to bring staff with them into a new dynamic health delivery system,” he added.

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