Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly TD says his party recognises the vital role that nurses and midwives play in the health system and his party supports efforts to improve their working conditions.

Deputy Donnelly added that the Government needs to deliver on pay equality for new nurses and midwives and tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in hospitals.

Deputy Donnelly said, “It’s deeply unfair that new nurses and midwives are being paid significantly less than their established colleagues. These nurses and midwives are already working under intense pressure given the lack of resources in our hospitals. The least that they deserve is to receive equal pay for equal work.

“The delivery of pay equality will not in itself solve the enormous problems in our health system, but it will send a signal to new nurses and midwives that they are valued by the Government. It will help with the retention of staff in the years ahead and will encourage more young people to enter what is in many ways a caring vocation.

“The Government also needs to address the serious workplace issues that are impacting on nurses and midwives. Recent months have shown us that overcrowding in our hospitals is out of control. Recent figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation shows that there were 1,718 patients stuck on trolley’s waiting for a bed over a three-day period. This represents a 46% increase in the space of a single year. On top of that, assault on staff in hospitals has sky-rocketed. In 2011, 673 reports of assault were made. By 2016, the number of reported assaults had grown to 3,462. Urgent action is needed to address this problem.

“Meanwhile, there are 2,200 fewer nurses and midwives working Ireland today than there were ten years ago. We know that a 2017 survey show that nearly 80% of student nurses are considering emigrating upon graduation. Many of these nurses highlight poor working conditions as a reason for choosing to work abroad. Understaffing is making the job unbearable and this is something which needs to be urgently addressed.

“Nurses are on the frontline in dealing with the overcrowding crisis in our health system. It’s important that they are given the supports that they need to provide essential care and services in our hospitals,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.