08/12/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU calls on NMBI to publish independent reports

SIPTU National Nurses and Midwifery Committee met this afternoon (8th December 2015) to discuss the publication of 18 reform recommendations arising from an external organisational review of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI)

After the meeting, SIPTU members called for the publication of the full independent reports in order to restore confidence and bring about a culture of transparency that underpins every strong regulatory body.

Speaking to SIPTUhealth.ie SIPTU Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said “It is only fair that all nurses and midwives have full access to these reports into how their statutory regulator conducts its business and allocate resources. 

SIPTU ran an energetic campaign to oppose the 50% increase in the annual retention fee on the basis that nurses and midwives did not receive any satisfactory explanation for the increase from the NMBI. 

The 18 reform recommendations arising from an external organisational review clearly justify our opposition to the increase and our demand that the current €100 retention fee be maintained as part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement. We are calling on the NMBI to publish these reports in full with a detailed explanation into how the NMBI plan on implementing the 18 recommendations from the organisational review.”

04/12/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU calls for full disclosure of NMBI organisational review

SIPTU has welcomed the publication of 18 reform recommendations arising from an external organisational review of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) by Crowe Horwath Accountants.  

Kevin Figgis said: “We met with the NMBI on Thursday, 3rd December and were given a copy of the recommendations from this external review by Crowe Horwath Accountants. However, the Board declined to provide us with a copy of the full report. It is quite clear from the recommendations that the NMBI requires structural reform in order to fulfil its statutory requirements and obligations to its members.

The 18 recommendations cover change management at the NMBI, the structure of the executive team, financial resources and funding, processes at NMBI, developing the organisation structure, IT systems, strategy, business planning and governance arrangements.

“The SIPTU National Nurses and Midwifery Committee will meet early next week to consider the recommendations. Following this meeting a statement will be issued to our members”, he said.

Click here to view Crowe Horwath recommendations  

Click here to read the statement from NMBI on the publication of the recommendations arising from the Crowe Horwarth Report

SIPTU member Breda Liston elected onto the NMBI

SIPTU member Breda Liston was elected on the first count to the Nurses and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) on 30th November.

During her election campaign, Breda stressed the importance of having strong trade union representation on the NMBI.

“I am delighted to have received such a firm mandate from nurses and midwives to represent our interests on the NMBI. I have been an active trade unionist all my working life and will continue to be a voice for fairness and value for money for all the nurses and midwives across the country.

“I hope to bring transparency to the NMBI, to campaign to reduce waiting times for nurse’s registration and to protect the integrity of the Lansdowne Road Agreement in relation to its commitment not to increase the NMBI retention fee.

“I wish to thank everyone who voted for me.”

SIPTU Nurses and Midwives Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis said: “Our candidates ran fantastic campaigns full of energy and enthusiasm. The engagement with our membership during these campaigns has been very encouraging. I look forward to working with Breda over the coming years and thank both our candidates for contesting this election.”   

Watch Breda outline what she hopes to bring to the NMBI below

01/12/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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National consultation results highlights exploitation of home care workers

A new set of proposed employment guidelines for the home care sector was launched today (Monday 30th November) following a nationwide consultation with home care workers. The consultation process revealed that exploitation, poor working conditions and discrimination are widespread in the sector. Home care workers working for private agencies or employed directly by families are increasingly vulnerable to precarious working conditions including low pay, temporary contracts and irregular hours. 

The guidelines comprise a comprehensive package of proposed measures to tackle exploitation and build a care sector that is sustainable and delivers quality care alongside decent jobs.

Read full Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), The Carers Association and SIPTU launch Employment Guidelines for Home Care Workers – The Workers’ Perspective report here

 Key consultation findings:

·         A lack of recognition and value for care work.

·       Standard and quality of home care provided impacted by insufficient time with clients.

·       No enforceable standards for non-HSE home care sector workers – different pay rates, training, standards of care, duties, and terms and conditions of employment depending on the service provider.

·         Insufficient training provided to perform all aspects of the work.

·         Tight schedules with multiple locations: often workers have to cut short allocated time with clients to reach their next client on time.

·         Unfair clocking-in systems:  time spent in transit not recognised, workers can be left with low wages despite working long hours.

·         Increased amount of paperwork, but no additional time allocated for client care.

·         Discrimination/racism in the workplace is not appropriately addressed.

·         Workers advocating for clients reported a fear of losing paid hours and/or clients losing hours of care if they make a complaint.

·         No clear job description or delineation of roles for many private/not-for-profit workers.

·         Occupational health and safety issues

·         Workers feeling excluded from on patient care plan and reviews. 

Paul Bell SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser said, ‘SIPTU represents 10,000 Home Care workers providing essential services to vulnerable citizens and the wider community. We welcome Employment Guidelines for the Home Care Sector: The Workers’ Perspective call for stronger regulation, investment in training and genuine recognition of the contribution Home Care workers make. We support the recommendation to establish a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the Home Care sector and see the national public service provider as a good benchmark to build upon our members terms and conditions and begin the drive to provide parity across the sector. We look forward to campaigning with the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland and the Carers Association to protect Home Care workers from any attempted race to the bottom and creating a solid floor of terms and conditions enabling all Home Care workers to earn a living wage and live a decent life.” 

Grainne O’Toole of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) said, The consultation process showed a burgeoning care sector with little regulation and few standards. The conditions for all workers range from exploitation to discrimination and racism. The level of exploitation of migrant workers in the care sector is alarming – particularly for undocumented migrants, who are increasingly being used as cheap labour to meet the escalating cost of care within the home. There is an urgent need for a work permit for the care sector to stamp out the exploitative use of migrants as a disposable labour force, and to allow people to be cared for in their own homes. The home care sector as a whole needs immediate attention by the government to ensure quality care and decent jobs go hand in hand. ‘

Dr Mary Murphy of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said, I commend the participative approach used in the consultation across multiple groups including family carers, migrant workers, the trade union movement and employer bodies.  The consultations held with home care workers highlighted the many serious issues arising from the lack of regulation in the home care market over the last decade.  Overall the research highlights the need for approaches that speaks to human rights and equality of treatment. The recent introduction of a Public Sector Duty for all public sector bodies to have regard to equality and human rights in the way they work and operate will impact on future work of public bodies in this area.

David Lowbridge of The Carers Association, said ‘we are committed to improving the rights of family carers. This research clearly sets out the issues facing Home Care Workers and presents future solutions. The quality and standards of home care is very important to families as it is to home care workers.

28/11/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU calls on Minister for Health to publish HSE National Ambulance Review

SIPTU has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to publish the recommendations of the HSE National Ambulance Review so that work on developing the service can commence.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU members will be meeting over the coming month across the country to consider proposals for a ballot for strike action in order to secure publication of the HSE National Ambulance Review and a commitment on increased funding for the service.

“It is staggering that the Minister for Health has had in his possession an executive summary of this independent review since December 2014 but has yet to make it public. This is even more surprising when it is considered that almost two years ago he made a public commitment to the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee to conduct an urgent examination of the service.

Bell added: “The National Ambulance Service has been heavily criticised in HIQA reports for a failure to meet some response time targets and other issues. Our members are demanding the service is adequately resourced to meet these targets.

 “It is my understanding that the executive summary of the review makes clear that the service requires approximately €50 million of extra investment to bring it up to the international standards that serve as the benchmarks for HIQA reports.

 “The review highlights the requirement for the recruitment of 250 to 300 frontline ambulance professionals and an updating of the fleet. It also focuses on the failure to adequately resource the Intermediate Care Vehicle programme that is resulting in the deployment of emergency ambulances for patient transfers.”

28/11/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Funeral arrangements for our retired colleague, Austin Cribbin

It is with regret we advise of the sudden death of our colleague, Austin Cribbin, former Honorary Secretary of Donegal Nursing Services. 

Funeral arrangements –

 Sunday, 29th November, 2015,  2.00 p.m. at Eternal Light Chapel, Mountain Top, Letterkenny.

3.00 p.m. St. Euan’s Catherdal, Letterkenny to repose overnight.

Monday, 30th November, 2015, Mass at 10.00 a.m. with burial in Maugherow, Co. Sligo.

Seanad passes FEMPI Bill 2015 giving effect to the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

On Thursday November 26 Seanad Eireann passed the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015 without amendment giving effect to the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The Bill passed Report Stage on 18th November with 106 TDs supporting the legislation and 16 TDs rejecting its passage.

See how your TD voted on FEMPI 2015 here.

The Seanad also backed a government request to the President to sign the FEMPI Bill earlier than the fifth day after the Bill is presented to him.

Seanad debate on FEMPI 2015

Lansdowne Road Agreement – Frequently Asked Questions

Dáil Debate, Wednesday, 18 November 2015, Webcast Recording

SIPTU calls for employment of more Health Care Assistants to alleviate hospital crisis

SIPTU has called for an increase in the number of Health Care Assistants to help alleviate the worsening staff shortages and overcrowding crises in hospitals across the country.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU has repeatedly called for the immediate deployment of Health Care Assistants to alleviate the pressure on nursing staff in hospitals. We have also called for the introduction of Theatre Assistants to assist hospital surgeons with routine surgical procedures. These measures could have a very positive impact on hospital waiting times and patient care.

“To this end, SIPTU has requested that the HSE create 800 new Health Care Assistant positions. Such a move would reduce the staff to patient ratio in our hospitals and the exorbitant costs of hiring temporary agency staff, which is running in excess of €27 million for this year alone.”

He added: “It seemed as if progress had been made on this issue in recent weeks with both the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health expressing a desire to alleviate the staff shortage crisis by seeking a ‘skill mix solution’. This would result in an increased number of Health Care Assistants to support other grades of health staff. A SIPTU delegation also attended a HSE briefing on the introduction of Theatre Assistants, a new grade of health worker, earlier this year.

“However, our members are amazed that health service management has yet to engage with the union representing these vital health workers on either of these issues. The Minister for Health, Leo Vardakar, and HSE officials need to immediately commence a dialogue on increasing the number and roles of Health Care Assistants with the union which represents these workers. Our members have a clear message and that is stop talking about us and start talking to us”. Bell concluded.

12/11/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU calls for more Home Support workers in the North East

SIPTU has called on the management of the HSE to employ additional workers in the Home Support service to deal with a developing crisis in the North East region due to staff shortages.

SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley, said: “HSE management has increased the number of Home Support packages as part of its strategy to deal with overcrowding in hospital emergency departments in the North East region.

 “This increase follows years of the service being starved of staff and resources. However, Home Support workers are struggling to deal with the increased workload resulting from the number of additional packages being provided to clients.

“This has resulted in local management being forced to turn to an array of private agencies making the provision of the new Home Support packages more cumbersome.”  

He added: “The HSE needs to deal with this developing problem. Home Support workers play a vital role in assisting people within the community and as a result freeing up beds in main acute hospitals. If management does not deal with the staffing shortage in the service it will become increasingly difficult to provide additional Home Support packages which in turn will have an adverse effect on acute hospitals in the region.”

SIPTU Support Staff to conduct two-hour work stoppage in Portiuncula Hospital

SIPTU members working as Support Staff in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, County Galway, will engage in a two-hour work stoppage from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday 13th November) in protest at a unilateral decision by management to begin using private contractors to cover the Emergency Department.

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Pat Flannery said: “This shows total disregard by management of its obligations under the Lansdowne Road Agreement and has happened without any engagement or agreement. The hospital had sanction to fill three vacancies directly. This approval was secured in December 2014 but the posts were never filled.”

“It is a blatant attempt by management to outsource the cleaning of a public hospital to private contractors.”