Health service managers have been given 24 hours to improve on proposals to recruit and retain nursing staff — or face the likelihood of being served notice of industrial action.
The threat from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) followed the adjournment without agreement last night of talks focused on devising measures to address the recruitment/retention crisis.
The INMO has advised the HSE that proposals have to be radically improved to form the basis of any further discussion.
Commenting on the adjournment of talks, Health Minister Simon Harris urged both sides to meet again today “and redouble their efforts to agree measures to address the important issue of retaining and recruiting nurses and midwives”.
Among the sticking points for the INMO were the refusal by the HSE and the Department of Health to allow directors of nursing and midwifery to fill all posts which become vacant in 2017; the refusal to guarantee that sufficient funding would be made available to allow the permanent employment of all Irish trained nurses and midwives graduating in 2016/2017 and the refusal to guarantee replacement of maternity leave vacancies on a one-for-one basis.
The union said the net effect of this would be that “the crisis remains and will continue to destabilise the delivery of safe patient care”.
The INMO accused management of a “total rowback” on a previous commitment to a funded workforce plan for 2017.
The union’s executive council is scheduled to meet tomorrow to consider the current position in the context of the recent national ballot for industrial action.
The INMO said unless there is “a radical improvement in the next 24 hours, it is probable that the executive council will, in the context of this adjournment, take a collective decision to serve notice, for industrial action, on all health employers”.
Siptu nursing representatives said the talks with the HSE and the department had “reached an impasse”.
Siptu spokesperson Kevin Figgis, said management’s proposals fell “way short of our members’ expectations regarding the protection of nursing and midwifery services into the future”.
“The HSE must revisit its position if it is to successfully reach an outcome that is in the best interest of patients and staff alike,” Mr Figgis said.
Management’s proposals will be discussed by Siptu’s National Nursing Committee today to decide on the best way forward.
Siptu said the union remains open to discussion.
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