THE Labour Court has said the HSE West cannot refuse to replace almost 400 student nurses once they complete their current 36-week placement.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation had sought the intervention of the court after it emerged the HSE West, as a cost-saving measure, was considering releasing the 376 pre-registration nurses without putting in place the 188 replacement qualified nurses as laid down in Department of Health guidelines.
According to the INMO the Labour Court recommendation, which has not yet been made available to the general public, says the HSE West cannot depart from the national agreement which exists, with regard to the replacement of student nurses/midwives who have completed their rostered placement.
“The court has also recommended that, in the context of the changing environment facing the health service, this national agreement should be reviewed, by all relevant parties, as a matter of urgency, and that this review should be completed by October 31,” the INMO said.
“The INMO is now in discussions with the HSE on implementing the court’s recommendation and will be seeking, in light of the finding, confirmation that all the student nurses/midwives, who have now completed their rostered placement in the HSE West, will be replaced by staff nurses/midwives, in the stated two to one ratio, as recommended by the court.”
The union said it would also be willing to engage in the national review.
The HSE said the court recommendation “requires that the parties meet at national level and agree a new framework for the management of staff numbers in the period between the termination of one and the commencement of the next student nurse rotation commensurate with the actual needs of the restructured and resized services”.
“In this context where the numbers of nurses engaged in this period of time is less than the numbers that the 2:1 ratio would require, the resulting savings should be apportioned to the nursing grades and included for the purposes of calculating their contribution to the total reductions in staff numbers required to meet financial and employment constraints,” it said.
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