Thursday, 7 February 2019
Nurses and Midwives Industrial Action: Statements
I address my comments to the Minister, Deputy Harris, and the Minister, Deputy Donohoe. I have tried to constructively engage with them on health reform. This issue crystallises into health reform. It arises from issues of recruitment, retention and pay. It is also about health reform and recruiting and retaining nurses to deliver a proper level of care to our patients. The health service is about delivering care to patients. Unless nurses are properly paid and their frustrations and dissatisfaction with their working conditions recognised, we will not have nurses to work in our health system. The strike indicates a failure to anticipate that and deal with nurses' frustrations. It should not have come to a strike situation. There has not been meaningful engagement. The Minister attends the annual general meetings of nurses, GPs and consultants and makes promises but he never follows up on them. He has committed to developing many reforms in our health service but none of them have been implemented or followed through. An Oireachtas committee spent a year developing Sláintecare and discussing health reform, how important it is to deliver primary and hospital care service and how to spend our money more efficiently. It is about value for money. Unless we reform our health service, the Government will spend a fortune on the health service in years to come. One must anticipate, plan and reform. This has crystallised into a strike which should never have happened.