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“The agreement made this week is a good one for nurses, patients and taxpayers. It adheres to the requirements of the Lansdowne Road agreement which provides for pay restoration for public servants from January in return for industrial peace,” said Minister Varadkar.
“Even though we have managed to take on more than 750 extra nurses and midwives in the last 12 months, recruitment in some areas can be a struggle, especially in high pressure environments like Emergency Departments.”
Yesterday, the Executive Council of the INMO decided, following “lengthy deliberation”, to defer the strike action scheduled to take place today at seven EDs.
The decision is to allow members consider proposals which emerged following further reengagement under the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). This consultation, and subsequent balloting, will take place over the next two/three weeks, stated the union.
The proposals include the establishment of an ED Staffing Taskforce, to report by 31 March 2016, which will set minimum safe staffing levels nationally; an educational bursary for new entrant nurses to the public health service, worth €1,500 and payable after 12 months in employment; and the appointment of a CNM2, with staff, to care for admitted patients on trolleys in EDs.
Additionally, it is proposed to designate all EDs as distinct workplaces under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This will require the production of safety statements, and the appointment of a Safety Officer and Safety Representatives specific for each ED.
Minister Varadkar commented: “The approval of additional promotional posts will ensure that more senior staff will stay in Emergency Departments where their experience is so valuable to patients and other staff alike. Other measures including those relating to health and safety make sense and will be broadly welcomed.
“This agreement will not in itself resolve overcrowding in our Emergency Departments, which is now easing, but it will help us to provide better and safer care to patients while in our Emergency Departments. And extending the education grant to all new nurses will help us to open the extra beds we need to implement the ED Taskforce plan.
“I want to thank the Workplace Relations Commission, HSE management, my officials and the INMO for their work over the weekend and today to prevent this strike.
“I hope that ED nurses will now vote in favour of the package agreed last night at the Workplace Relations Commission and that the planned action in January will not arise.”