Commenting on Budget 2023, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for the allocation to health spending to be more ambitious when it comes to workforce planning. This comes as the Government has announced that €23.4 billion will be spent in health in 2022.
The INMO will be seeking greater detail on the overall budget package on areas, including the exact number of nurses and midwives that will be recruited between now and the end of 2023, the implementation plan for the Safe Staffing Framework in Nursing (which uses a scientific model to set staffing levels and requires a legal basis for implementation to ensure safety is prioritised), and the supports made available for undergraduate student nurses and midwives.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “The continued increase in health spending is welcome if it is guaranteed that money is spent in an efficient way. We need to ensure that money allocated to the Department of Health is spent to get staffing right, building up capacity and moving to the universal care model as envisioned by Sláintecare.
“While we know from Minister McGrath’s speech that an additional 6,000 workers will be employed across the health sector, no specifics were offered when it comes to exactly how many nurses and midwives will be recruited.
“Recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives deserves a laser focus in the year ahead. The same way we have a pupil-teacher ratio embedded in Budgets year-on-year, we need to see a patient-nurse ratio that dictates what the safest level of staffing should be in each of our acute hospitals. When our children enter school, we expect them to be in an environment where they can get the attention they need to thrive, why don’t we expect the same when a loved one is in hospital?
“We are currently seeing levels of fifteen patients to one nurse. We are seeing instances of maternity wards closing because of staffing issues. This is unsustainable. Money allocated in Budget 2023 must be used to develop a safe and sustainable staffing levels as envisioned in the Sage Staffing Framework in Nursing and Midwifery.
“While reductions to the Student Contribution Charge for our student members is welcome, student nurses and midwives are still paying above the odds for accommodation costs to carry out their placements, which is a core part of their training. The Minister for Finance must clarify if students qualify for the Renters’ Tax Credit.
“In order to ensure that young nurses and midwives see Ireland as a viable place to work and thrive on graduation, the Government must do more to reduce the cost of living near the large hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway. Much more detail for health spending is now required”, she concluded.