SIPTU calls for immediate release of HSE ambulance capacity review

SIPTU has called on the HSE to immediately release a capacity review of the National Ambulance Service that was commissioned last year following concerns raised by workers that the service is inadequately resourced.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The capacity review into the National Ambulance Service must be released immediately and discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health as a matter of priority. 

“Our members have been deeply concerned about the direction of the ambulance service and demanded a capacity review from the Government in February 2014. From the reports we have seen our concerns are completely vindicated.

“We are short 290 highly skilled ambulance professionals who are needed to give life saving treatment to sick and vulnerable citizens. This is unacceptable. Reports in the media today drawing on an independent review of the ambulance service suggest that the key performance indicators set out by HIQA in 2011 were unrealistic and flawed due to the failure to carry out a full capacity review before they were set.

Paul Bell added: “If the National Ambulance Service is to function at the level that HIQA is demanding, and the public deserve, then the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, needs to invest in recruitment, resources and conduct a review into how to develop an effective strategy for community first responses.” 

“The time has come for the Government to stop moving from one health crisis to another. It needs to provide leadership and the public with confidence that the National Ambulance Service is safe, fully resourced and fit for purpose.

SIPTU calls for increased funding for Home Care service to help ease hospitals crisis

SIPTU has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to immediately increase funding to HSE Home Care services in order to tackle the issue of delayed discharge and overcrowding of patients across the public hospital network.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “There are currently 800 patients waiting to be discharged from hospitals across the State. While many of these will need nursing home care, many more can and should be enabled to return to their own homes where they can be supported through HSE Home Care services. We have thousands of SIPTU members working as Home Helps who are ready, willing and able to provide the necessary supports to facilitate such a process.

“However, over 2 million hours have been cut from Home Care services since 2008, with cutbacks only coming to a halt after a concerted campaign by our union. One legacy of these cuts is that patients who could be supported at home are now more likely to remain in hospital care. At the same time underemployment is now a common feature throughout the Home Care workforce”.

A SIPTU survey has revealed that nearly 7 out of 10 Home Care workers currently have less than 20 hours work per week. The same survey also indicates that 4 out of 5 such workers are seeking additional hours of work. This means in many cases a home care service could be provided for hospital patients enabling many of them to return to live in their own homes under a tailored care plan.

Paul Bell added: “The minister needs to act now to restore funding and hours to this critical service as a key measure to address the ongoing hospital crisis. A comprehensive Government response which addresses the issues of understaffing in our hospitals, and the restoration of hospital beds remains central to any long-term solution to the current crisis. However, provision of adequate funding for HSE Home Care services is one important measure that could quickly assist in alleviating the current situation.”

STAY UNITED – PAY €100 THE CAMPAIGN IS WORKING

SIPTU has called on all Nurses and Midwives to stay united and to make a payment of €100 to the NMBI, when their personal circumstance allows.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that in recent days some members have encountered difficulties making a credit transfer to the NMBI bank account but assured members that the unions have checked this out and have been told that the NMBI account is open and working.

Mr Figgis also confirmed that a special meeting of the Board of the NMBI has been convened, for next Thursday, 15th January 2015, to further consider the matter and that members will be updated as soon more information is known. Mr Figgis also said that badges, indicating payment of €100 and that the nurse or midwife remain on the register have now arrived and are being distributed.

“The three unions involved in this campaign are currently distributing badges, to all workplaces, and they should be available from the early days of next week. We would encourage all members, who have paid the €100, to wear the badge thereby indicating, in a visible fashion, their participation in, and support of, this national campaign and We would again remind all members that the HSE has indicated that proof of registration is not required until 30th April 2015.

We would ask members, in private sector employments, to contact their respective union if any earlier date, of proof of registration, is being sought. This will allow us communicate, with that employer, advising them of the HSE position on this issue which we will ask them to follow.”

SIPTU calls on health workers to join Dáil demonstration

SIPTU has called on all health workers to attend an emergency demonstration outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin, on Wednesday, 14th January at 12.00 p.m.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “In response to the ongoing overcrowding crisis in hospital accident and emergency departments throughout the country SIPTU Health Division members are being asked to attend this demonstration with their colleagues in the other health service unions”.

He added: “The demonstration will highlight health service workers deep concerns about the safety and care of their patients, as well as the unacceptable working conditions being experienced by staff. This protest is taking place on the first sitting day of the Dáil in 2015. We believe it is the duty of health workers to make politicians aware of their anger at the treatment of the hundreds of patients lying on trolleys in accident and emergency departments across the country”.

SIPTU Health workers are requested to assembly at Liberty Hall, Dublin 1, on Wednesday 14th January, at 11.15 a.m. and walk to the demonstration at the entrance of Leinster House, Kildare Street. The demonstration will commence at 12.00 p.m. and finish at 2.00 p.m.

SIPTU demand HIQA immediately inspect overcrowded hospitals

SIPTU has called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to immediately inspect hospitals around the country where patient and staff safety is threatened by severe overcrowding. 

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU members are very concerned that there is no plan to address the worrying trend that has been developing since September of patient safety, dignity and care being threatened by severe overcrowding”.

He added that due to the HSE being unable to confirm that the identified hospitals are safe for both patients and staff the HIQA must investigate urgently.

“Our members are asking why, despite this growing national emergency in our hospitals, the statutory body tasked with ensuring levels of patient safety are maintained, HIQA, has not begun inspecting these facilities. These hospitals are clearly overrun and understaffed. Our members are calling on HIQA to put the public’s mind at ease by investigating whether or not these hospitals are safe for patients and staff.

“SIPTU members are astonished that this crisis has been allowed to get to this stage. Let’s be very clear we are not here because of a winter vomiting bug or a flu epidemic. We are here because if you strip away 2000 hospital beds through cuts, if you don’t recruit and retain nurses, health care assistants and emergency personal, you end up with the kind of dysfunctional health service that our members are working in and patients are being treated in.” 

Members stay united in opposing increase in NMBI fees

Thousands of SIPTU nursing and midwife members have followed the advice of their union to pay a €100 retention fee to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) when their personal circumstances allow, rather than the €150 demanded by that organisation.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “I would ask members to realise that this campaign of opposition is not just about the proposed fee increase for 2015. I would ask members to recall that the fee was increased, by over 12%, this time last year and the NMBI has clearly said they reserve their position, with regard to further increases, for 2016 and beyond.

“This, obviously, completely ignores the income reductions that nurses and midwives have suffered in recent years, and the NMBI, as a monopoly, cannot increase its fees by 50% and maintain credibility.

Against this background SIPTU is again reminding members of the following:

1.         Members should now pay €100 (the existing fee), by cheque/postal order/credit transfer when their personal circumstances allow.

2.         The union will be distributing badges in all workplaces, which members can wear to demonstrate they have paid €100 and remain on the register.

3.         The NMBI has confirmed that its own internal procedures provides for a second reminder, which will issue after 2nd February 2015, allowing for a further 28 days before the matter goes before the NMBI Board in March/April.

4.         The HSE has confirmed that it only requires confirmation of registration for 2015, by 30th April 2015.  Therefore there is no requirement for any local demand for confirmation of registration before this date (the HSE issued a circular on 23rd December 2014 on this matter).

5.         SIPTU and its fellow nursing unions remain in contact with the Department of Health concerning the attempt by the NMBI to impose a fee increase and whether this breaches the Haddington Road Agreement.

Note to members making a payment to the NMBI:

When making this €100 payment, after 5th January, it should be made through one of the following methods; by Cheque; or Postal Order; or Credit Transfer

NMBI bank details are:

Sort Code – 901490

A/C – 97384636

BIC – BOFIIE2DXXX

IBAN – IE09BOF190149097384636

Bank name – Bank of Ireland

Bank address – Baggot Street Lower

When making the payment of €100, regardless of which of the three methods used, members should quote their unique NMBI Pin Number and maintain a record of payment.

Call for pay rises for all workers

SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called for pay rises for workers across the private and public sectors as the economy makes a faster than expected recovery.

In response to the employers’ organisation, IBEC, stating that the majority of its members will implement pay rises averaging 2% over the coming year, O’Connor, told RTE News on Friday (2nd January), SIPTU hopes the rises would be greater and more widespread.

He said: “We hope to do better. We would hope that more workers would be covered and we hope that we will do better than 2% given the substantial increase in productivity since 2009”.

O’Connor has also called for early talks between unions and the Government on pay restoration for public sector workers.

O’Connor said that the faster than expected recovery should see the Government enter negotiations well in advance of the Haddington Road Agreement expiring next year.

He said: “We’re now expecting to record growth this year of something between 4.5-5.5%, depending on which commentator you’re listening to. That’s considerably in advance of where everybody expected we would be.So if the recovery is running a year ahead, then we should be looking at rolling back the pay cuts across the economy”.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser Paul Bell supports the calls for pay restoration and told SIPTUhealth.ie that income recovery for health workers has always been at the heart of the Better Health Care, Better Jobs campaign. 

“Our members have been in the firing line over the last number of painful years of recession. They have had their pay cut, they have been doing the job of two or three workers and been under constant pressure to deliver a quality standard of care to the most vulnerable people in our society.  

Our members in the health service deserve decent jobs and a secure livelihood to support themselves and their families and they should be first in the queue now that the economy is turning the corner”

HSE confirm no proof of NMBI Payment until 30th April 2015

Nurses and Midwives are being advised they do not have pay the increased NMBI retention fee of €150 by the 1st of January 2015 and being encouraged to pay €100 only to the NMBI when they can afford it.

In a joint statement from SIPTU/INMO/PNA thousands of nurses and midwives, who have supported the campaign, in opposition to this NMBI fee increase, over the last number of weeks were thanked and encouraged to stay strong.
Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that despite the frequently threatening, and at times contradictory, statements, from NMBI, thousands of nurses and midwives have followed the campaign and will, when their personal circumstance allows, pay €100, by cheque/postal order or credit transfer, to NMBI.

Mr Figgis also assured members that the HSE confirmed it would not take any nurse or midwife, off the payroll, pending further developments; and that the Department of Health confirmed they are continuing to engage, with the NMBI, with a view to resolving the current impasse.

A circular realised by the HSE confirmed that registration is not required before 30th April 2015 and therefore there is no necessity to request verification of payment from nurses and midwives before that date.

Speaking to SIPTUhealth.ie Mr Figgis said NMBI also confirmed it will issue a second renewal notice on the 2 February, allowing a further 28 days for payment, before the issue could go before the Board and that all nurses and midwives are entitled to practice nursing and midwifery once registered, and no change in registration status can occur before March of 2015 at the very earliest.

We would ask members to realise that this campaign of opposition is not just about the proposed fee increase for 2015.  We would ask members to recall that the fee was increased, by over 12%, this time last year and NMBI have clearly said they reserve their position, with regard to further increases, for 2016 and beyond.  This, obviously, completely ignores the income reductions that nurses and midwives have suffered, in recent years, and NMBI, as a monopoly, cannot increase its fees by 50% and maintain credibility.

Mr Figgis also thanked every member for the response to the social media picture protest.

“Our members uploaded pictures, from workplaces all over the country and that has given the campaign a great boost. The response clearly shows massive support for this campaign. These pictures have been sent to local TDs/Senators, many of whom have responded through Twitter/Facebook, indicating their support for our campaign and the payment of €100 as an annual retention fee.”

Badges, confirming payment of €100 and that you are still registered, will be distributed, to workplaces, in the early days of the New Year, and we would ask members to wear them when at work to keep the campaign strong and all nurses and midwives united,” concluded Mr Figgis.

Note to members making a payment to the NMBI:

When making this €100 payment, after 05th January, it should be made through one of the following methods; By Cheque; or Postal Order; or Credit Transfer

NMBI bank details are:

Sort Code – 901490

A/C – 97384636

BIC – BOFIIE2DXXX

IBAN – IE09BOF190149097384636

Bank name – Bank of Ireland

Bank address – Baggot Street Lower

When making the payment of €100, regardless of which of the three methods used, members should quote their unique NMBI Pin Number and maintain a record of payment.

Latest circular from HSE

HSE Policy on Certification 

Further update on method of payment

NMBI Picture Protest – Get Involved

SIPTU, and other health unions, have organised a nationwide social media picture protest under the hashtag #no2NMBIincreases from noon Wednesday the 17th of December until Friday the 19th of December.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that all members can join in the nationwide workplace social media picture protest that will confirm broad support for the no to the NMBI fee increase campaign.

“The NMBI special board met last Friday, 12th December 2014 and it did not result in any new developments so we have no alternative but to continue our campaign of opposition to this unfair and unjustified tax on our members work.

We decided on having a social media event because we want a visual wall of opposition to this NMBI increase and we are asking all of our members to upload a picture of opposition onto social media with the hashtag #no2NMBIincreases and to email them to ask@siptuhealth.ie to be uploaded onto the Union’s Facebook, Twitter and website,” said Mr Figgis.

Mr Figgis also said that SIPTU members should cancel NMBI direct debits, if not already done so.

“We are encouraging our members to pay €100, after 5th January 2015, or when your personal circumstances allow and remind all members that no-one has to pay by 1st January, ignore recent statements from NMBI which, regretfully, continue to be threatening and misleading,” Mr Figgis concluded.

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NMBI Social Media Event

As a further action in the ongoing campaign of opposition to the proposed NMBI retention fee increase, SIPTU and the other health unions are organising a social media event between 12.00 noon on Wednesday, 17th December 2014 and 3.00 p.m. on Friday, 19th December 2014.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said the event will increase awareness, amongst the general public, and visibly show all politicians, in this country, that nurses and midwives are not going to pay this 50% increase but will continue to pay the current €100 fee.

“On Wednesday, 17th December, after 12.00 noon, this “Thunderclap” is planned to allow every nurse/midwife to demonstrate their solidarity with this campaign. Once the event is captured, from each individual workplace, it will create a massive visual presentation, of opposition to the fee increase, from every workplace across the country.

Our advice to members is to keep the campaign of resistance going and this thunderclap is a simple, straightforward but effective opportunity to demonstrate that every workplace, is fully supportive of, and committed to, this campaign.”

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO MEMBERS

Download the latest update including meeting of NMBI and reminder about cancelling direct debits