19 May 2005 Edition
Withdraw threat to nurses' pay
Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, described as "provocative" the threat by the Health Service Executive to withhold payments due to nurses and midwives under the Sustaining Progress agreement. He called on the government to instruct the Executive to withdraw the threat and to resume engagement with the Irish Nurses Organisation immediately.
Questioning the Minister for Finance Brian Cowen, who was standing in for the Taoiseach, Ó Caoláin said: "The Health Service Executive is to withhold payments due to nurses and midwives under the Sustaining Progress agreement and under benchmarking which fall due on 1 June 2005." And he asked, "What is the Minister's view of this provocative action? Is he aware that this decision has led to the threat of industrial action by nurses and midwives?"
He went on to call on the government to "instruct the Health Service Executive to immediately withdraw this threat and instruct them to resume engagement with the Irish Nurses Organisation on the healthcare assistant training programme and to provide for further discussion, involving the relevant regulatory bodies and stakeholders, to resolve the remaining issues as quickly as possible".
Pointing out that 181 people were on trolleys in A&E departments on Tuesday, Ó Caoláin commended the nurses and midwives for their "Enough is Enough' campaign which, he said, "has won widespread public support and has highlighted the dire situation in Accident and Emergency units, an ongoing crisis which persists despite commitments from the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to ensure substantial improvements".