The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) received the support of the USI (Union of Students Ireland) in their recent protest outside the Dáil on September 27th. The protest was organised to call for the restoration of incremental credit for nurses and midwives who graduated between 2011 and 2015.
At the end of 2015, the INMO, together with two other unions (SIPTU and the PNA) concluded an agreement with the HSE and the Department of Health that restored monetary recognition for the 36 week Nursing/Midwifery Internship from 2011 onwards. Yet, DEPER, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, altered a section of the agreement, and restricted the monetary recognition for graduates from 2016 onwards only. This amendment left nursing and midwifery graduates from 2011-2015 earning less than the nursing and midwifery graduates pre-2011. In individual terms, this is a loss of over €1,400 for those that graduated between 2011-2013 and a loss of over €1,000 for those that graduated between 2014-2015. Liam Doran, General Secretary of the INMO, called the situation regarding the incremental credit “grossly inequitable and nonsensical.”
In backing the protest, USI President Annie Hoey stated “USI is supporting the INMO in their protest, calling for the restoration of incremental credit for nurses and midwives who graduated between 2011 and 2015.” She added: “there is already a national shortage of nurses in Ireland. If action isn’t taken by the government to restore the incremental credit, we risk exporting vital medical skills.”
This USI support comes on the back of a survey of over 600 student nurses nationwide carried out earlier this year. According to the survey results released by the USI, 93% of student nurses have considered emigrating when they qualify; of those 93% who thought about emigration after graduation, 80% said they felt completely voiceless as a nurse/midwife, 60% said it was due to a lack of sufficient financial support and 44% said it was due to the difficult working hours. Finally, another 36% said it was due to burnout. The USI survey also showed that 95% of student nurses claimed that working as a nurse or midwife was extremely stressful. When it came to placement, 57% of student nurses claimed it had a detrimental effect on their physical health, and a further 52% said it negatively impacted their mental health.
At a time when there is a shortage of nurses and midwives the unions are demanding the restoration of this incremental credit, along with the introduction of dynamic incentive recruitment & retention initiatives in order to recruit and retain new graduates, hopefully addressing the severe crisis in staffing across the health service. Speaking in relation to the protest, Liam Doran said: “we are in a crisis with regards to nurses and midwives in this country. One of the reasons for that is a failure to grant this incremental credit.” He added that he would not rule out strike action, stating that “if it isn’t reversed, then certainly from an INMO point of view, we will take whatever steps we have to take to ensure that our nurses are treated equitably and fairly.”