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Government must ensure fair play for nurses – Ó Caoláin

9 January, 2007

As tens of thousands of nurses and midwives begin balloting today on a potential campaign of work to rule and withdrawal of labour, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney to ensure that nurses receive the reduced working week and pay improvements which they are seeking.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Nurses and midwives are at the front line of our health services, delivering care to patients in very difficult circumstances because of the gross inadequacy of a health system that successive Governments have failed to reform. Their pay, working conditions and working hours need to be addressed as a matter of priority.

"In December, on behalf of Sinn Féin, I met with a joint delegation from the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association. They outlined their case for a 35-hour working week and for serious pay anomalies to be addressed. I fully support their call for these improvements which are as much about enhanced patient care as they are about better conditions for health service staff. Over-worked nurses cannot be at their best at all times and patient care suffers as a result.

"The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney must ensure fair play for nurses. Improved working conditions for front-line healthcare workers, the recruitment of further essential hospital staff and the provision of additional public hospital beds are all indispensable elements in addressing the crisis in our healthcare system.

"The Government should ensure through dialogue with the INO and PNA that their concerns are met and that neither a work to rule nor withdrawal of labour become necessary." ENDS

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