Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher TD has said that the decision by members of the INMO to support a campaign of industrial action to improve staffing recruitment and retention is a symptom of the malaise spreading across the entire health system.

“The simple fact is that there are 3500 less nurses and midwives in the HSE compared to 2009, and this is playing a major role in the delays and crises across the entire system.”

“Last week, 96 beds, according to the HSE’s own figures, were not usable as a direct result of nursing shortages. This is directly affecting service delivery, and patient outcomes, and it urgently requires action.”

“Since the Government came into power in 2011, successive Fine Gael Ministers for Health have presided over health budgets that, at best, can be called works of fiction. These fictional budgets promised much, but delivered little in terms of staff recruitment and retention.”

“Every year, we have seen new recruitment campaigns targeting nursing and medical professionals abroad. Every year, they have failed to recruit these much needed professionals in any meaningful numbers.”

“One of the best examples of Fine Gael’s failure in health was the 2015 Emergency Department Report, commissioned by Minister Varadkar, which recommended the recruitment of an additional 200 ED nurses to ensure a better quality of care for patients stuck in EDs.”

“The result was what we unfortunately now expect from Fine Gael when it comes to health – failure. Not one nurse was recruited,” said Kelleher.

“Fine Gael’s litany of failure means that patients suffer. On staff recruitment, the HSE, the Minister and his Department must start thinking outside the box about how to attract nurses working abroad to come back to Ireland.”

“Figures from An Bord Altranais show that over 13,500 nurses trained in Ireland have applied for certificates that will enable them to use their qualifications abroad.”

“These nurses must be the first priority in terms of attracting nurses back to Ireland. The Irish State has invested significant resources in training these nurses. The Minister and the HSE has a responsibility to think outside the box, develop meaningful packages that would bring these nurses home.”

“In addition to their own employment conditions, nurses will want to work in a health system that puts patients first, that ensures proper resourcing, and respects their work. Without these commitments, nurses will be slow to return to Ireland, and further industrial unrest will follow,” concluded Kelleher.