Pay increase of up to €1,500 for nursing graduates

Simon Harris: Nurses to be given incremental credit.

Thousands of nurses who graduated between 2011 and 2015 are to get a pay increase of up to €1,500 in January.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO), together with other unions representing nurses, had sought the removal of the pay anomaly since its introduction six years ago.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the nurses would be given incremental credit for their 36-week student placement. This will push graduates who were affected by the cuts one point up the pay scale.

The increment is worth between €1,200 and €1,500, depending on a graduate’s point on the pay scale and could benefit up to 7,500 nurses and midwives.

The INMO said the withholding of incremental credit for the fourth year of the undergraduate programme was “a very regressive measure” that was introduced, unilaterally, in 2011.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran welcomed the restoration, describing it as “an important first step”. He said more initiatives were needed to address the “deepening crisis” with regard to nurse/midwife staffing levels and the country’s inability to retain them in the public health service.

Mr Harris said there were “major challenges” in recruiting and retaining nurses and described the restoration of the increment as a “small step” forward.

“This is not a panacea, nor am I presenting it as such to the recruitment issue, but I do believe that it is a very positive step forward.” He said the pay restoration, which is a “modest enough amount of money”, would be “another tool in the toolkit” to lure nurses back from abroad.

However, he admitted that the ‘Bring them Home’ campaign has not worked, with only 88 nurses taking advantage of it. “I am not going to pretend that was an overwhelming success,”he said.

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