Investment in ambulance service critical to delivery of primary care

SIPTU has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to immediately release the capacity review into the National Ambulance Service.

Speaking today at the Labour Party Conference in Killarney, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The creation of 50 paramedic positions in the West of Ireland is a step in the right direction.

“However, what is required is the publication of the capacity review of the National Ambulance Service.

“Our members are deeply concerned about the direction of the ambulance service and demanded a capacity review in February 2014. One year later we are still waiting.”

Paul Bell added: “If the National Ambulance Service is to function at the level that the HIQA is demanding, and the public and communities deserve, then the Government needs to seriously invest in recruitment and resources.

“The time has come for the Government to provide leadership and the public with confidence that the National Ambulance Service is safe, fully resourced and fit for purpose”

02/26/2015 Comments are off Health Division

SIPTU calls for EU wide regulation and licensing of Health Care Assistants

SIPTU has supported the European Public Service Union’s (EPSU) call to engage with the European Commission on a feasability study into establishing a common training framework and licensing throughout the EU for all health care assistants.

Speaking today at a European Union health meeting in Brussels Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell said: “SIPTU has been working with our European partners over the last number of months to develop principles for minimum training and education requirements for health care assistants and for this vital health care role to be regulated and licensed.”

“The role of the health care assistant has evolved dramatically over the last number of years. SIPTU members are being given more and more responsiblities yet their hard work is not being recognised properly. Professional registration is a vital step towards developing recognition for our members.

“The HSE employs 14,000 health care assistants all of whom are providing front line hands-on patient care in both hospital and community settings yet the Irish government continues to refuse legitimate calls to register these health care professionals despite their being a recognised occupational group by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

“This European wide initiative supports our campaign to deliver better health care for patients and better jobs for communities.”

Health care assistant and SIPTU member, Cheryl Barrow Hilliard, said that the professionalisation of the health care assistant’s role is long overdue and that with the EPSU, ILO and union support recognition is within touching distance.

SIPTU confirm Student Nurse protest will not proceed

SIPTU has confirmed that due to a successful campaign in support of student nurses the lunchtime protest scheduled for 26th of February outside St Steevens Hospital will not proceed.
Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis said: “As a result of our student nurses campaign the HSE has retracted its previous position on supernumerary rostering in 1st, 2nd and 3rd year placements for student nurses and has confirmed in writing that it will be upholding the agreement from the Labour Relations Commission in October 2014.
The agreement confirms that supernumerary rostering of student nurses & midwives during 1st, 2nd and 3rd year placement should only provide for normal daytime working hours, MondayFriday.
In addition, the HSE has confirmed that it will seek to identify any areas which are not applying the national agreement and an engagement with stakeholders, including SIPTU Nursing, will be convened to address any issues arising.”

SIPTU calls for urgent response to waiting list crisis

SIPTU has warned that the only long term solution to the ongoing hospital overcrowding and outpatient waiting list crisis is major Government investment in the recruitment of more front line health care workers.

Responding to the speech by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael conference today, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Providing 500 additional nursing posts is a positive move by the Minister and a vindication of the SIPTU campaign to lift the public service recruitment embargo but it is only a small step on the road to fully reversing the devastating impact funding cuts, reduced staffing levels and bed closures has had across our health service.”

SIPTU member and health care assistant, Pamela Staunton, said that she and her colleagues have struggled, since the recruitment embargo was introduced, to maintain the standards expected by patients and their families.

“We have been doing more for less for years now”, she said, “It’s good that we may be able to have some extra nurses on the wards but there are 10,000 less staff in the health service now than prior to the introduction of the embargo so 500 extra staff is only a drop in the ocean.  If the Government wants to deliver a better quality of care for patients and jobs for communities it must invest across the entire front line of the health service.”

Stephen Quinn, a health care intern and SIPTU activist, said he supported the Minister’s sentiment in encouraging health care workers who emigrated to return to work in Ireland. However, he added: “Health care interns working throughout the health service have paid their dues and should be recognised, rewarded and regularised into permanent direct employment.

“We were taken on initially to plug the gaps in the health service and now that the Minister has given us some hope with his commitment to recruit again, we believe our work should be rewarded.”

Paul Bell added: “SIPTU insists that the minister secures the necessary funds to provide our health service with more front line health care staff. He must also spend taxpayers money sensibly on direct public service employment rather than propping up private for profit agencies that cannot possibly provide the continuity of care that patients or communities need or deserve

SIPTU nurses and midwives organising local protests against NMBI fee increase

SIPTU nurses and midwives are organising lunchtime protests at hospitals across the country on Monday, 2nd March, to highlight the attempt by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) to increase its retention fee by 50%.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “ SIPTU is encouraging all nurse and midwives to stand together and hold a lunchtime protest on 2nd March. This is the day before the forthcoming special NMBI board meeting, which has been called to consider a proposal to amend the fee. “We would encourage all health members to organise with their colleagues to make their voices heard loud and clear on that day. Members should liaise with their local organiser so that they can be advised of the specifics of their local protest.”

He added: “These protests will again demonstrate the strong support for the campaign and for the need for the NMBI board to reverse their decision and restore the €100 fee.”

02/13/2015 Comments are off Health Division


We refer again to the ongoing campaign which continues to grow and strengthen with each week.

As you will have seen, from the recent updates, the NMBI Board is meeting, probably the first week of March, to consider a proposal to amend the fee. Our three unions welcome this decision and we await the outcome of the Board’s deliberations.

In the context of the campaign we would also point out that the accounts, of NMBI, published recently confirm that, in 2013, €33 approx. out of a retention fee of €88, was paid to outside parties in the form of legal and professional fees.  The total cost of professional and legal fees was about €2 million with no explanation of daily rates/hours worked or other details.

At the same time NMBI continues to refuse to make any contribution to the costs incurred by a registrant who finds her/himself having to respond to any complaint, even if it is found to have no foundation, under the fitness to practice process.

This is one of the reasons why the campaign continues and, at this time, we would particularly stress the following:

  1. Members are again asked to pay the €100 fee, when they can, maintaining a record of the payment and submitting their PIN number with same.
  1. Members are also asked to wear their campaign badge thus visibly demonstrating their support for, and participation in, the campaign.
  1. Members are again asked to submit letters, to the President of NMBI, seeking answers to specific questions with regard to lines of expenditure etc.

We again thank the thousands of members who joined and are supporting this campaign. We must now further consolidate our stance, on this issue, which continues to seek the restoration of the €100 fee before any discussions, on other matters, can begin.




Further updates will issue in the coming days.

SIPTU seeks commitment on pay restoration for low and middle income health workers

SIPTU is seeking a commitment from the Government that the pay of low and middle-income health workers will be the first to be restored, as measures introduced during the economic emergency are unwound.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Any phased or structured approach by Government to restore the pay of public sector workers must put low and middle earners first in the queue.

“We are campaigning across the union to get low and middle earners back the money that was taken out of their pockets during the financial emergency so they can contribute to the local economy and share in the emerging recovery.”

SIPTU is the largest health union in the country with a majority of its members in this sector earning under €35,000 per annum.

 Paul Bell added: “Our members are the backbone of the health service and have shown tremendous resolve and fortitude throughout the financial emergency and deserve recognition for that from the Government. They have suffered a great deal in terms of cuts, pension levies and other charges and their sacrifices must be acknowledged. SIPTU members are campaigning hard to win better health care for patients and to make sure they are first in the queue for full pay restoration.”

Listen back to interview with Paul Bell on LMFM

02/10/2015 Comments are off Health Division

NMBI to consider proposal to amend its fee

SIPTU has stated its support for the decision of the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland’s (NMBI) to meet again, after 15 working days to consider the union’s proposal to amend its fee.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Following the union’s successful campaign of resistance the NMBI have a big decision to make in the first week of March.”

“We welcome the sensible decision not to antagonise our members further by issuing a second renewal notice until after the meeting and we can also confirm to members that no further discussions can take place, on this matter, until the NMBI restores the €100 retention fee.”

He added: “The requirement that the €100 fee be restored, to facilitate any further discussions, is clearly supported by the tens of thousands of our members who are supporting the campaign and we thank them for their solidarity and determination to see off this unjustified tax on their work.”

NMBI Board to consider unions’ position on fees

The Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) is considering a demand that it reverse a decision to implement a 50% increase in its retention fee following a meeting between its senior staff and union representatives on Thursday, 5th February.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “At the meeting representatives of the three health unions, absolutely and repeatedly, reaffirmed our view that the retention fee, levied by NMBI, must be maintained at the current €100 rate.

“The NMBI team, noting our absolute position with regard to the €100 fee being restored, said that it would be taking the outcome of the meeting, and specifically our position with regard to a €100 retention fee, back to the Board at a meeting scheduled for next Monday, 9th February. The Board’s negotiating team indicated that they would revert back to the unions on Tuesday, 10th February, to provide us with the Board’s decision on this matter.He added: “In the interim we stress that members should pay the €100 fee when their personal circumstance allows.  Please note a record should be kept, of any payment, and your PIN number should be submitted with the €100 payment.”

SIPTU supports agreement to increase nursing resources at UL Hospital Group

SIPTU supports an agreement between health unions and management, facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), to significantly increase nursing resources to the University of Limerick (UL) Hospital Group.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Tony Kenny said: “SIPTU are pleased with the outcome of the negotiations at the LRC and will now work to ensure the recruitment of the new posts happens as soon as possible. This is essential in order to effectively combat the overcrowding crisis in the hospital network in the Mid West.”

He added: “We believe that the recruitment of 70 additional nursing posts in Limerick, Ennis, Nenagh and Croom by the end of May 2015 will go some way towards improving the quality of care for patients at these facilities. It will provide some much needed relief for our members who are working under severe pressure day in and day out.

“In addition to this very positive outcome for patients and workers, SIPTU has successfully fought with other unions to ensure that there will be an independently chaired industrial relations process that will focus on Emergency Department overcrowding in University of Limerick Hospital, Dooradoyle. This hospital has long suffered from severe overcrowding.”