IRELAND'S nurses and midwives are to go on strike for 24 hours on January 30 to raise awareness of staffing levels.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will provide only life-saving care and emergency response teams during the strike.
The union says patient care is being compromised as the HSE has been unable to recruit and retain enough nurses and midwives on current wages.
Should the dispute go unresolved, there will be further 24-hour strikes on February 5 and 7 and then on February 12, 13 and 14.
‘Ball in government’s court’
“Going on strike is the last thing a nurse or midwife wants to do,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha. “But the crisis in recruitment and retention has made it impossible for us to do our jobs properly.
“We are not able give patients the care they deserve under these conditions.
“The HSE simply cannot recruit enough nurses and midwives on these wages. Until that changes, the health service will continue to go understaffed and patient care will be compromised.
“The ball is in the government’s court. This strike can be averted. All it takes is for the government to acknowledge our concerns, engage with us directly, and work to resolve this issue, in a pro-active manner.
“We were due to meet with the government in the national oversight body in December, but the meeting was cancelled. Like many patients in Ireland’s health service, we are still waiting for an appointment.”
INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said the HSE needs to offer competitive salaries to retain staff.
“We entered these professions because we care for our patients,” she said.
“We’ll be going on strike for the exact same reason. Ireland’s patients deserve better than this understaffed health service.
“Nurses and midwives are now globally traded assets. The public health service no longer pays a competitive wage, so we can no longer get the necessary number of nurses and midwives.
“We are calling on the public to support us. Nurses and midwives are always there for you when you need help. Now we need your help.”
The number of staff nurses fell by 1,754 (6 pet cent) between 2008 and 2018, despite an ageing, growing population making the health service busier.
This would be only the second national strike in the INMO’s 100-year history.
The union is legally required to give one week’s notice, but has given three to allow for safety planning