Nurses warn of 'triple threat' of understaffing, a winter surge and Covid-19 to health service

Nurses warn of 'triple threat' of understaffing, a winter surge and Covid-19 to health service

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “We have already seen trolley figures steadily increase - this will only worsen as winter bites."

The HSE has failed to agree a plan with nurses to staff the health service this winter, the INMO claimed today.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's Executive Council are now warning that the continued cooperation over winter should not be “taken for granted”, saying the health service faces a “triple threat” of understaffing, a winter surge and Covid-19.

They pointed out that one in 10 Covid cases have been nurses and midwives, leading to further understaffing due to illness or self-isolation.

An INMO spokesperson stated that despite extra demands on nurses, the nursing workforce has grown by less than 1% since 2019.

The INMO Executive is urgently seeking talks to establish how many extra nursing and midwifery posts will be funded over the coming year – particularly in winter.

A 2017 Labour Court decision required the HSE to agree a funded workforce plan for nursing and midwifery each year with the INMO, but this has not occurred.

INMO President and nurse, Martina Harkin-Kelly, said: “The health service faces a triple threat from understaffing, winter and Covid.

“The three make for a bruising combination, pushing nurses and midwives to breaking point.

We are not simply attending work: we take serious risks to provide care, often in exceptionally uncomfortable environments.

“The INMO Executive Council today had a very clear message: the HSE must engage with the union on its workforce plans urgently.

“We cannot go into winter without a plan that’s agreed with frontline workers. Nurses and midwives cannot be taken for granted.” 

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “Yet another year without a workforce plan would be disastrous for the health service.

“We have already seen trolley figures steadily increase - this will only worsen as winter bites.

“The HSE needs to set out how and where they will find extra nursing and midwifery staff this winter.

“That should naturally be done in consultation with the INMO, yet we have still had no engagement, with winter fast approaching.” 

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