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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Nurses travel to Blackrock to protest against €150 registration fee

The action was set to start on Wednesday in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda.

Image: Mike Healy

ABOUT 800 NURSES and midwives have taken to the streets of Blackrock to protest against an increase in their registration fee.

The €150 required charge has jumped by €50 in a year, and by €62 in two years. It has been described as “unfair and unjust” by nurses.

It is mandatory for nurses to join the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and a retention fee is charged each year.

One nurse told TheJournal.ie:

“This is at a time when nurses and midwives have suffered cut after cut to pay a debt that isn’t ours, and when other regulatory bodies have reduced their fees (teachers for example).
Today we are saying no more. Our unions (INMO, PNA and SIPTU) have arranged a protest today outside the headquarters of the NMBI and nurses/midwives and their families are travelling from all over the country to stand up for ourselves.

Another argued, “Nurses and midwives have suffered pay cut after pay cut, short staffing and poor working conditions.

“Over the last few years the retention fee has gone from €85 to €150, and there is reason to believe the intention is to increase it even further over coming years. Nurses and midwives have nothing left to give.”

In a statement, the NMBI said the decision for the 50% price hike was “not taken lightly” but was deemed a “necessary step” to ensure the Board could continue its regulatory functions.

It pointed to the government’s demands that it pay its own way.

“NMBI has kept the fee as low as possible for as long as possible and the increases are happening off a low base,” the statement continued.  ”Admittedly, the increases have been in quick succession over the last two years but are unavoidable.

We regret having to raise the Annual Retention Fee but re-iterate the need for this increase to ensure NMBI can meet its statutory obligations. We ask all nurses and midwives, irrespective of how unhappy they feel about it, to pay it as without registration they unfortunately will not be allowed to work in their profession by any employer.

The retention fee is due on 1 January next year and the HSE has told the Board i cannot employ nurses and midwives without the relevant certificate. It also confirmed that nurses are under a “professional and legal responsibility” to have their name entered on the Active Register.

Separate actions

Earlier, industrial action by another set of nurses protesting against hospital conditions was suspended pending further discussions.

Actions was due to commence tomorrow at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.

The measures were to be carried out by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO). Talks between the group and the HSE took place yesterday and lasted for eight hours.

Figures have previously shown that there has been a major increase in the numbers of people on trolleys in the hospital. The figure had increased from 184 in October 2013 to 631 last month.

Ongoing discussions 

The talks were chaired by the Labour Relations Committee. Further talks are set to take place on November 27 and December 4.

Conditions in the Emergency Department of the hospital were described as “overcrowded and dangerous” by the INMO and it is felt that this was impacting upon patient care.

Speaking about the resolution, the INMO’s Industrial Relations Officer, Tony Fitzpatrick, said: 

The INMO welcomes the proactive engagement of management in talks under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the complex and challenging issues that need to be addressed to end the severe and deteriorating overcrowding in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

It was hoped that further measures would ensure “the health, safety and well-being of over-stretched members”.

The HSE were unavailable for comment at the time of publication. 

Reporting by Michael Shiels McNamee

Read: 7,000 emergency department patients were on trolleys last month

Also: 100 ‘ambitious’ Irish nurses sought for jobs in Essex

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