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INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha (file photo) Leah Farrell/

Under-staffing issues in health service 'exacerbated by Covid-19 absences'

The INMO will appear at the Dáil’s health committee today.

FOUR BILLION EURO earmarked to boost the health service could be “wasted” if proper staffing plans are not implemented, a Dáil committee will hear today.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) will tell the Oireachtas Health Committee that under-staffing issues in the health service have been exacerbated by absences due to Covid-19.

The union will also express concerns that new bed capacity set out in Budget 2021 must be matched by increased staffing.

“The government has given the health service a much-needed shot in the arm with this health spending. But if we don’t get staffing right, it could be wasted,” INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha will say.

Ní Sheaghdha will also tell the committee that the Government’s proposed 67 extra critical care beds will require the equivalent of 435 full-time nurses to staff.

And she will further warn that overseas recruitment will become more difficult as a result of the pandemic.

Ní Sheaghdha will call on the committee to recommend a funded workplace plan which sets out how many staff the HSE can hire and more undergraduate nursing and midwifery places to ensure a stronger supply of staff.

“Over 5,000 people put nursing or midwifery as their first choice in the Leaving Certificate, but we only have space for a little over a third of them,” the committee will be told.

The Oireachtas committee will also hear recommendations that recruitment powers should be returned to local managers to overcome delays in hiring, and that student nurses and midwives should be paid during their placements in the health service.

Meanwhile, there will be a further recommendation for regular, universal testing for Covid-19 in all healthcare settings, and an end to a requirement for some healthcare workers to return to work before the end of their self-isolation period.

“The health service can also keep people at work by ensuring that they aren’t exposed to this virus. That means ending exemptions to the self-isolation policy and bringing in regular testing in all healthcare settings,” Ní Sheaghdha will add.

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