THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is seeking urgent meetings with Ministers and the HSE over the latest HSE plans under the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).
The INMO believes that the latest management proposal will “seriously compromise patient safety” if it is implemented, and so wants it withdrawn.
The HSE, while acknowledging that the INMO, and other health service unions, are fully compliant with their obligations under the Haddington Road Agreement, has now brought forward a new set of measures required to deliver further cash savings of €80 million.
In response, the HSE said it is “simply seeking to implement the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement which the INMO signed up to”.
The HSE said “it is not correct to say that the HSE ‘is seeking an additional €80m’”, and that it is in fact seeking to achieve the original target set for it of €290m.
“This money has already been removed from the HSE’s vote allocation,” it said, adding:
The HSE requires the extra hours identified under the agreement to be used in the first instance to reduce the health sector pay bill as per the intention of the agreement. The HSE is extremely cognisant of the importance of patient safety and considers it a priority above all else.
The INMO said that the latest proposals, which were presented to unions last week, are all focused on the frontline and include:
- A further reduction in staffing
- Reduction in the skill mix
- Filling nursing vacancies, in the community, with newly graduated nurses. “This is contrary to best practice,” says the INMO
- Reduction in the number of operational nurse managers in the care of the older person sector
- Substitution of experienced/trained support staff, in other sectors, with new staff under the support staff intern programme.
The INMO described the latest plan as “the most damaging set of measures brought forward in recent years”. In response, it has sought immediate meetings with the three Ministers in the Department of Health to demand the plans be withdrawn.
It is also seeking a meeting with the Oireachtas Health Committee to detail its concerns at the impact of these measures on patient safety, and a meeting with the Director of Patient Safety and Quality in the HSE.
In addition, the INMO will be seeking discussions with patient support groups and other professional groups/representatives on the plan.
The INMO will also be advising all of its members “that they are fully compliant with their obligations under Haddington Road”.
We shall also advise them that they cannot agree, under their Code of Conduct, to any changes/initiatives which they believe will negatively impact upon patient care and safety and the ability of nurses and midwives to deliver safe care through safe practice.
INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said that these proposals are “totally driven by the demand for the health service to deliver further cash savings”.
He said they have not been subject to a patient safety audit or risk assessment and “there is no question” but that these measures will “gravely compromise patient safety and the ability of nurses and midwives to deliver safe care through safe practice”.