Nurses are demanding real progress from Government on tackling pay inequality
Pay inequality and the hospital overcrowding crisis are top of the agenda at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's annual conference this morning.
Some 350 nurses and midwives from across the country are attending the conference in Cork today.
Members will use the meeting to demand real progress from Government on tackling pay inequality before the budget.
The organisation has warned that pay issues are "fundamentally" linked to the ongoing difficulties with recruiting and retaining enough nurses to adequately run the health service.
An emergency motion on the issue will be debated on Thursday.
INMO figures have shown that a record 42,819 patients were treated on trolleys in the first four months of this year – a rise of 19% on last year.
The organisation’s general secretary has warned that the figures are “extraordinarily high; way beyond anything that was ever described as a crisis.”
She said the conditions nurses and midwives are working under are ‘untenable.’
“Well I think over the next three days our members will debate issues of pay particularly and the current crisis in the health service – particularly in the area of recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives,” she said.
“They believe fundamentally that that this rests with the low pay that nurses have and they also believe that pay and equality is now transparent throughout their scale and needs to be corrected immediately.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, INMO president Martina Harkin Kelly said the starting salary for nurses is currently just over €28,000.
She warned that INMO members are prepared to take industrial action if the Government doesn't improve rates.
“Money attracts nurses at the end of the day,” she said.
“If the money is not correct and the conditions are not right we are not going to be able to retain and we are not going to be able to recruit.
“So, at both ends of the nursing scale there is that attrition of nurses out of the system.”
This is the INMO’s 99th annual delegate’s conference.
It will run for three days starting from today.