HIQA report challenging but achievable

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) are studying the recommendations contained in the HIQA “Review of pre-hospital emergency care services” which they have described as “challenging but achievable”.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “In its 12 recommendations the HIQA review group brings clarity to many of the areas which our members in the National Ambulance Service have identified as a cause for concern over a long period of time. The recommendations will be challenging in both how they are applied within the ambulance service. However, there is a concern that the recommendations are made without the benefit of viewing the, as yet unpublished, national capacity review of the ambulance service commissioned by the HSE. It is also evident that the implementation of the recommendations will require a commitment from the Government for additional resources”.

He added: “Recommendation 7 requires detailed clarification as it suggests that the key performance indicators in life threatening calls must take into account the difference in ambulance response times in a urban or rural setting”.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien said: “SIPTU members in the Dublin Fire Brigade refute any suggestion by HIQA that ambulance services can be substantially improved without greater funding being made available. There is information which shows the DFB Ambulance service has a very high efficiency rate. Also, we welcome the fact that the report highlights the DFB’s existing clinic audit procedures. This indicates that patient outcome will now become a key performance indicator.

“We also agree with the call for a proper Service Level Agreement for the ambulance service, which must include the provision of direct funding for the DFB Ambulance Service. In relation to the HIQA report highlighting the 14,000 queued emergency calls received by DFB in 2013, it should be noted that during times when demand outstrips ambulance capacity DFB fire appliances staffed by qualified paramedics are utilised in life threatening emergencies”.

26/11/2014 Comments are off Health Division

Abolish unfair USC

The SIPTU National Executive Council (NEC) has called for the abolition of the Universal Social Charge (USC). The charge, which was introduced as an emergency measure by the Fianna Fáil – Green Party government in 2011, is a regressive tax which makes no distinction between low and high income earners.

According to SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor, the USC “is at odds with the generally progressive character of the PAYE system in that a person on the minimum wage pays at the same level as those at the top of the income spectrum.”

The USC is expected to raise €4 billion in 2015 and plays a crucial role in generating revenues for the State.

“Accordingly, it cannot be abolished in one fell swoop without enormous consequences for those who depend on public services. Therefore, it would be necessary to replace it with other measures to generate revenue from wealth and those on higher incomes. Even in that context it can only be phased out gradually,” O’Connor said.

“Apart from re-distributing the burden so that the better off contribute more, projected levels of economic growth over the next few years, if they are realised, will offer the possibility of making progress.”

“What is needed is a plan to abolish the USC on a phased basis over a period of time. This would entail a combination of measures shifting a greater degree of the burden to the wealthy and those on high incomes on the one hand and deploying a portion of the benefits of economic growth each year on gradually reducing the level of USC in a progressive way that is focused on low to middle earners.”

25/11/2014 Comments are off Health Division

SIPTU calls for HSE interns to be given permanent posts

SIPTU has demanded that workers employed under the HSE support staff intern scheme be made permanent with immediate effect instead of continuing the creeping privatisation of the health service.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The massive spend on agency staff by the HSE has reached €328 million in 2014. It would be much more cost effective for interns to be brought into the health service’s permanent staff as they are clearly are needed and this would also allow workers to benefit from secure employment conditions.

“SIPTU will not support any notion of expanding the support staff intern scheme beyond the 1,000 positions agreed under the Haddington Road Agreement. I have informed the HSE of our position that staff employed under the intern programme to date be made permanent with immediate effect.”

Bell also criticised the HSE over reports that the public service recruitment embargo has led to the number of senior health managers increasing by over 10% while frontline staff has been reduced by 5%.

He said: “SIPTU members are shocked by the revelations that, on the one hand, senior managers have exited the HSE on voluntary redundancy schemes but every post vacated has been filled and in some areas additional senior managers have been recruited. This was done while 3,000 directly employed frontline jobs were lost and not replaced creating serious stresses in the delivery of services and continuity of patient care.

“I find it staggering that in 2013 the HSE spent over €230 million on agency staff in order to prop up the staff recruitment embargo that only serves to fill the pockets of “for profit” private employers. To add insult to injury it has now been revealed that the agency spend for this year will reach €328m despite the fact that HSE management has instructed that no agency staff be engaged.”

21/11/2014 Comments are off SIPTU Health

Correspondence from Department of Health to NMBI provides clarity for Nurses and Midwives

SIPTU, and other health unions, note that the Department of Health has confirmed that no nurse or midwife can be removed from the register for non payment of the increased NMBI retention fee until April 2015.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that SIPTU is asking members to make their payment of €100 to cover their retention fee in the week beginning Monday 5th January and no later than Friday 9th of January 2015. SIPTU, and other unions also advised that recent correspondence from the Department of Health to the NMBI confirms that no nurse/midwife can be considered, for removal from the register, for non-payment the full increased fee, until April 2015 despite intimidatory statements from the NMBI.

“In response to the success of our protest outside their offices in Blackrock last Tuesday, we are encouraging all members to stand together and continue our strong and united campaign of opposition to this unjustified NMBI increase and tax on our members work.”

Mr Figgis said that NMBI has made a commitment to cooperate fully with all requests to cancel direct debits and is advising any SIPTU member to contact the Union if they are experiencing any difficulties and that the unions will be circulating, badges, which members can display on their lapel, confirming they have made this payment (€100) and can continue to be a registered nurse or midwife.

NMBI Newsflash 21nov14

Copy of Letter to NMBI President

Video of protest

SIPTU calls on Nurses and Midwives to stay united

Further to our on-going campaign of opposition, to the fee increase being sought by NMBI, we ask SIPTU members to note the following:

  • In recent days SIPTU have received numerous queries, from members, indicating they were experiencing difficulties, with NMBI, when they sought to cancel their direct debits;
  • In response to this we now attach, for your attention and information, copy of letter, sent today, to the CEO of NMBI which is self-explanatory. We will advise you, immediately, when we receive a reply from the CEO;
  • In addition to cancelling any direct debits, which remain in place, we continue to advise members to await direction, as to when to pay the existing €100 fee to NMBI;
  • The NMBI Board is meeting again today. The President has indicated that he will update us on their position, re the fee, following discussions, on this issue, at today’s meeting. We will, of course, also advise you of any developments, and response from the Board immediately.

Read latest update on NMBI

DD Cancellation Advice

Letter to CEO of NMBI

2,000 nurses and midwives protest against NMBI fee increase

Over 2,000 nurses and midwives, from across the country, attended a protest on Tuesday, 18th November, outside the head offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) in Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

For over an hour they collectively indicated their outright opposition to any increase in the NMBI retention fee above €100. At the protest a letter, detailing nurses and midwives opposition to the 50% fee increase, was handed to the NMBI President.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “The success of this protest is an important step in having this unjust increase reversed”.

SIPTU and other health sector unions have also asked Department of Health officials to examine whether an attempt by NMBI to increase members’ retention fees from €100 to €150 next year breaches the Haddington Road Agreement.


Note for members 

Following today’s protest outside NMBI offices, which was the latest step in our campaign of opposition to their attempt to increase the retention fee by 50% we would like SIPTU members to share the following information with colleagues.

  1. Over 2,000 nurses and midwives, from all over the country, attended the protest today. For over an hour they collectively indicated their outright opposition to any increase in the retention fee above €100. At the protest a letter, detailing our opposition, was handed to the NMBI President.
  1. SIPTU would like to thank all members who attended and those who sent messages of support.
  1. The board of NMBI are meeting again, tomorrow (Wednesday), at which the fee increase is to be discussed in response to the on-going campaign;
  1. In the interim we, once again, reaffirm our advice, to all members, to cancel their direct debits, to NMBI, immediately if they have not already done so;
  1. All SIPTU members are also asked to await further advice, from our three unions, as to when to pay the €100 retention fee;
  1. A further update will issue, in the coming days, detailing all developments in this issue. Keep monitoring www.siptuhealth.ie

  Remember follow the campaign. Await further advice.

Pay €100 when advised.

18/11/2014 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU calls for No More Board Increases

SIPTU Nurses and Midwives, are holding a public protest, at 12.00 noon tomorrow Tuesday, 18th November 2014, outside the head offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

This protest is the latest step in the nationwide campaign of opposition, being mounted by the three unions, against the decision, of NMBI, to seek an increase in the retention fee, for 2015, of 50% to €150. This increase would mean that this regulatory body will have sought almost 80% of an increase, in two years, from all registered nurses and midwives.

The protest will see hundreds of nurses and midwives, from all over the country, travel to the head offices, of NMBI, to confirm their outright opposition to this totally inexplicable, unjustified and indefensible increase in fees being sought by the regulatory body.

The registration fee, for all other health professionals, is remaining at €100, until at least January 2017. However the NMBI, due to its failure to control legal and other costs, is saying it must seek this increase despite the fact that:

  • nurses and midwives have suffered, at a minimum, a reduction in salary of over 14% in the last four years; and
  • inflation is running at less than 1%.

The reaction to this attempt to increase this retention fee has confirmed, to our three unions, that the NMBI, currently, does not enjoy the support and confidence of the professions it is established to regulate. In fact the view of the vast majority of nurses and midwives is that the Board charges them a registration fee, annually, only to fund the legal costs, in fitness to practice hearings, when difficulties in the clinical environment are being investigated.

The NMBI has not, despite the past five years of cutbacks, loss of nursing posts and underfunding of the health system, made any public comment about the impact, of such cuts, upon the ability of nurses and midwives to practice safely in the interests of patients.

In mounting this campaign of opposition SIPTU have consistently reaffirmed the following:

  1. Their support for a retention fee, of €100, which is the same retention fee levied upon all other allied health professionals.


  1. The need for a regulatory body that protects the public by ensuring that nurses and midwives can practice in an environment conducive to the highest quality care through safe practice.


  1. That all expenditure, by the statutory regulatory body, is subject to openness and full transparency with tighter controls of public relations and legal costs.


  1. Their collective commitment to agreeing a long term funding model, for NMBI, which ensures the costs of regulation is properly shared between the professions, service providers and the Board in the interests of the general public.


SIPTU calls for replacement of agency health workers with directly employed staff

SIPTU has called for the Government to implement a policy of replacing agency workers with directly recruited staff following the release of figures indicating that the Department of Health and HSE paid out €238 million to private recruitment companies during 2013.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “It is not a surprise that recruitment agencies have been the big winners due to the rigid application of the embargo on recruiting staff by the public service since 2010. The €238 million spent on employing agency workers in the public health service in 2013 was despite an instruction to all managers throughout the HSE and related agencies not to use agency staff.

“SIPTU members working in frontline posts in nursing, midwifery and as support staff have over the past four years bitterly complained about the amount of monies being spent on recruitment agencies’ commission and VAT to hire in workers for positions that should be long term directly recruited posts. The policy does not make economic sense. It is based around the false economy of moving staff numbers ‘off balance sheet’ so it can be claimed that permanent staff numbers can be reduced without any impact on services or patients”.

Paul Bell added: “The SIPTU campaign to stop the overreliance on the use of agency staff met with success in Budget 2015 when Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform,  Brendan Howlin, announced the ending of the staff recruitment embargo with immediate effect.

“However, the ending of the recruitment embargo alone will not end the reliance on agency staff. The Government must redirect the monies provided to agency firms to the HSE to directly recruit staff.  SIPTU is calling on the HSE to identify each post filled by an agency worker and, where appropriate, open a recruitment competition to fill the position on a direct contract basis.

“The issue of reducing staff numbers in the health service should not be about optics; it should also be based on value for money. It is now clear that the only organisations that benefited from the chaos caused by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government’s implementation of an unlimited voluntary redundancy scheme in 2010 were private recruitment agencies some of which have earned tens of millions of euros each year since this disastrous policy was introduced”.

SIPTU calls on nurses and midwives to stand firm against NMBI fee demand

SIPTU have advised members to ignore a recent intimidatory statement, from the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI), with regard to the current campaign of opposition to the 50% increase in retention fee being sought by that organisation.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “SIPTU and the other nursing unions have reiterated their advice, to all members, in relation to the attempt by NMBI to impose a fee increase. That is to make no payment at this time in response to renewal notices as the matter has been raised under the Haddington Road Agreement with the Department of Health.

“All available nurses and midwives are also requested to attend a public protest outside the NMBI headquarters in Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin on Tuesday 18th November, at 12.00 p.m.

He added: “The three nursing unions have also advised their members that the NMBI’s own rules ensure that no decision, about non-payment, can come before its board prior to March. Also, the HSE, last year, gave the 30th May as the last date for production of confirmation that the retention fee had been paid.

“Against this factual background the NMBI’s recent unsigned statement, suggesting that the disputed fee, of €150, has to be paid, in full, by the 1st January, is misleading, disingenuous, intimidatory and very divisive. Furthermore the unions believe it confirms the level of separation between the NMBI and the professions it is charged with regulating.”

In maintaining their campaign of opposition the three unions have re-affirmed their support for a retention fee, of €100, which is the same retention fee levied upon all other allied health professionals, the need for a regulatory body that protects the public by ensuring that nurses and midwives can practice in an environment conducive to the highest quality care through safe practice and that all expenditure by this statutory regulatory body is subject to openness and full transparency with tighter controls of public relations and legal costs.

Update for all SIPTU Shop Stewards

SIPTU Nurse and Midwives, in conjunction with members of the INMO and PNA, will demonstrate against the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland decision to increase the registration fee by 50% for 2015 having already increased the registration fee substantially in 2014.

In monetary terms Nurses and Midwives are expected to increase their mandatory registration fee from €80 to €150 in the space of one year and with no guarantee of a further increase in 2016.

Our members are determined to confront the NMBI and Department of Health on this unjust increase in fees and have refused to pay the increase already formally notified to them.

This issue is extremely serious and as such SIPTU Health Division is requesting all Shop Stewards, Activists and Members located in Dublin, Louth, Meath Kildare and Wicklow to attend the demonstration which is organised:

VENUE: NMBI HQ 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock Co Dublin

TIME: 12 Noon

Come out and show your support for your colleagues against an unjust and unwarranted attack on our member’s pay.

Contact your local official for transport details