Nurses have rejected an insulting Government offer that does not address the crisis in our hospitals.
Since the recession, nurses have borne the brunt of cuts and worsening conditions. Our hospitals can’t recruit or retain nurses due to appalling conditions and low pay.
Nurses rejected the offer by 94% and are likely to ballot soon on strike action. They are seeking parity with other grades in the health service who have similar qualifications.
This is only way we can recruit nurses and deal with the chronic staffing shortages that are leading to ward and theatre closures.
WHAT HAVE THE NURSES REJECTED?
The Government appointed commission offered a paltry €7 euro a week, before tax, for some nurses, in specialist areas. They still expected nurses to work one and a half hours for free per week, a measure introduced during the recession but which still remains in place. Effectively nurses are expected to work a full shift for free every 8 weeks!
This insulting offer will not deal with the health crisis.
- Emergency department units in hospitals across are short staffed by over 200 nurses.
- There are over 1,000 nursing vacancies. The crisis is a direct result of Government policy and attacks on public sector workers since 2009.
- Critical services like CAMHs bed units that deal with the mental health of vulnerable young people cannot stay open due to shortages of skilled nurses.
- In Dublin’s St James Hospital 3 operating theatres out of 11 are regularly closed due to nursing staff shortages. The picture is similar in other acute hospitals.
- Over 700,000 people are on all waiting lists in our public hospitals
- Meanwhile there were over 9,000 admitted patients on trolleys or overcrowded wards in October in public hospitals.
- Since 2007 there has been a 12% reduction in hospital beds as a result of Govt policy.
Instead of recruiting staff directly to the public service, the HSE increasingly relies on agency staff. Ironically, agency staff can earn up to €10,000 euro more per year. But relying on agency staff means the staffing levels are not secure or permanent
Nurses need the support of all workers. The crisis in our health service will get worse as the Government continues a policy of a two tier health service: a public one in crisis and a private one for those who can afford to pay and that yields huge profits for an elite few.