The organisation says the HSE is hiring over 1,000 agency nurses a day to fill staff shortages
The HSE is spending over €1.5m every week to bring in agency nurses to deal with staff shortages, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
The nursing union says the health service is paying premium rates to recruitment agencies to fill vacancies.
INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha told Newstalk that the HSE is hiring over 1,000 agency nurses every day.
“We know that the cost of the bill, just for nursing alone, is now in excess of €1.5m a week,” she said.
“We believe that is extraordinary; we believe it is not necessary.”
The HSE met with nursing unions this evening in a bid to head of the threat of all-out strike.
The INMO has warned that it will ballot its members for industrial action in ten days time unless new proposals on pay and “unsafe levels of staffing” are brought forward.
Nurses and midwives have warned that current level of pay is too low to recruit and retain enough staff to keep Ireland’s hospitals running.
An overwhelming 94% of INMO members rejected government proposals on pay in a vote last month.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE now has 2,600 fewer nurses than it did in 2007.
“Nurses and midwives are immensely dedicated professionals and our concerns deserve to be taken seriously,” she said.
“We will not stand by while patient care is compromised due to understaffing. The HSE simply cannot hire enough nurses and midwives on these wages.
“In ten days’ time, our members will vote on whether to go on strike. This is not a decision that any nurse or midwife will take lightly.”
This evening’s meeting broke up without agreement and the INMO expressed disappointment that no offer was made. Both sides have committed to further meetings next week in an attempt to resolve the dispute.