Frontline nursing numbers still falling

inmoLogo_largeThe Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has found, following the release of latest official employment figures from the HSE, that the number of frontline nurses (staff nurse/midwife) in the hospital and public health nurses, in the community, have fallen despite recruitment campaigns during 2015.

The latest figures confirm that staff nurse/midwife posts have reduced by 163 to 24,260 from December 2014 to the end of July this year and the number of public health nursing posts has fallen by 24 to 1,436 in the same period

The latest official figures also confirm that the total number of nursing/midwifery posts, in the public health service, as at the end of July 2015 was 34,970 which is 4030 less than the 39,000 posts in the system at the beginning of 2008.  This reduction means that there has been a 10.33% reduction in nursing/midwifery posts, over the past seven years, while other health sector posts, including medical and allied health professional, has, correctly, increased to meet demand.

These figures also confirm that while recruitment has recommenced, in the Irish health service, which is very welcome, it is a reality that the pay, hours of work, workload and other terms of condition available are simply not attractive when compared to other countries particularly the UK, Australia and North America.

It is also worth noting, when facing the worldwide shortage of nurses/midwives, that Ireland, unlike many of our competing countries, actually educates sufficient numbers of nurses/midwives (1,580) per annum to meet our own needs.  This fact alone, if the terms and conditions of employment were attractive, would allow us, over time, to address our severe shortage of nurses/midwives.  However, our graduating professionals continue to find more attractive work in other countries.

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The latest figures also confirm that over 750 frontline nursing posts, on average, continue to be filled, every day, through agency employment.  This is a very expensive method, of employing staff, and the INMO calls upon the Department/HSE to convert those posts into permanent positions immediately.

Speaking this morning INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said:

“These official figures confirm that despite efforts to recruit, which are very welcome, Ireland continues to lose nurses and midwives from the frontline of our health service.

When you combine aggressive overseas recruitment with, in more recent times, aggressive recruitment by private hospitals here in Ireland, it is patently obvious that the work environment, including pay and hours, in our public service are wholly inadequate to attract and retain expert Irish nurses and midwives.

It is now imperative that discussions commence, immediately, to agree targeted recruitment and retention measures which will result in our health service being adequately staffed, with qualified nurses and midwives, which, research shows, leads to better patient outcomes.

The INMO calls upon the Department of Health/HSE to begin those discussions, with this Organisation, immediately”.