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'Give us the staff we need to beat Covid-19'

'Give us the staff we need to beat COVID'

"Frontline nurses and midwives simply do not have enough staff to do the job safely."

Frontline nurses and midwives need a major staffing boost urgently to deal with Covid-19, according to an emergency motion passed at the INMO’s annual conference yesterday.

The motion calls for:

- Repeal of the derogation policy which brings potentially Covid-positive healthcare staff back to work before completing their self-isolation period;
- Powers to be restored to Directors of Nursing and Midwifery to hire the staff they need urgently;
- Funding to implement the safe staffing framework for nursing;
- Mandatory weekly Covid-19 testing for all staff in acute and community healthcare services.

The motion calls on the INMO’s Executive Council to revert to members in six weeks’ time to see if sufficient progress has been made.

The HSE has claimed that 1,600 additional nurses have been hired since May. The INMO has highlighted that 1,300 of these are not qualified nurses, but are in fact students who have been temporarily hired.

Since December 2019, approximately only 240 additional staff nurses and midwives have been recruited.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “The message from our members is clear. Frontline nurses and midwives simply do not have enough staff to do the job safely.

“Our members are facing risky COVID environments with high levels of fatigue. This will only intensify as winter approaches. If we want to provide safe care and protect staff, we simply need to increase staffing. Our unpaid student nurses are being relied on to fill vacancies and this not acceptable.

“That means giving managers the powers to hire, ending the derogations policy which risks infecting more staff, increasing staff testing, and funding a proper staffing plan.

“Our members have instructed us to seek these measures from the government and report back within six weeks on any progress made.”

Outgoing INMO President, Martina Harkin-Kelly, said: “Nursing and midwifery are team professions. Without the proper numbers, patient and staff safety are put at risk.

“I do not think our frontline members’ message could be simpler: give us the staff we need and protect us from the virus. We should not be left asking ‘please sir, can we have some more?’

“1 in 12 COVID cases have been nurses and midwives. We have been disproportionately hit by this virus – it’s time for the Minister to act on our concerns.”

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