Nurses and midwives are to strike for 24 hours on January 30th. The Irish Murses and Midwives union is legally required to give one week’s notice, but has given three to allow for safety planning.
Should the dispute go unresolved, there will be further 24-hour strikes on 5th and 7th of February, and then the 12th, 13th and 14th. The strike will see INMO members withdraw their labour for 24 hours, providing only lifesaving care and emergency response teams.
The dispute centres on safe staffing in the public health service. The HSE has not been able to recruit and retain enough nurses and midwives on current wages. The number of staff nurses fell by 1,754 (6%) 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. INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“Going on strike is the last thing a nurse or midwife wants to do. 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:
“We entered these professions because we care for our patients. 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.”