Community nursing numbers slashed across the State - Louise O'Reilly TD
Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has heavily criticised the government over the collapse in the number of nurses working in Community Healthcare Organisations.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“Community nurses working in Community Healthcare Organisations (CHO) are integral to the overall health system. Along with GPs they make up the frontline of the health service in the community.
“CHOs are community healthcare services which are outside of acute hospitals; they include primary care, social care, mental health, and other health and well-being services.
"The aim of CHOs is to make it easier for people to access local services, to improve management and accountability, and to allow for stronger local decision-making.
“However, because of the slashing of the number of nurses in CHO Areas the services are proving to be more difficult to access, and not easier as was supposed to be the case.
“Over the past decade, since Fianna Fáil introduced the recruitment moratorium for those in the health service, the numbers of nurses in acute and community nursing have decreased.
"Indeed, since December 2007 the number of nurses across the 9 CHO areas decreased by an astonishing 2,235 nurses.
“This is having an extremely damaging effect on the delivery of healthcare in the community.
“For example, in CHO Area 1, which covers Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, and Monaghan, the number of community nurses has decreased by 330 since 2007.
“In CHO Area 2 which encompasses Galway, Roscommon, and Mayo the community nursing numbers are down by 429 and in CHO Area 8 covering the midlands as well as Louth and Meath the numbers are down 474 since 2007.
“Community nurses are essential to the delivery of proactive frontline health care and unless something is done to reverse the decline in their numbers then it will be impossible to deliver primary care and other services such as mental health services in a manner which people need.
“If Fine Gael are serious about implementing Sláintecare then they should be seeking to increase community nurse numbers, not standing over their decline.
“If we are to see nurse numbers increase then we need to see action on the reasonable requests nurses have made for better working conditions, better facilities, more supports, increased training opportunities, and for the issue of pay to be addressed.”