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Shortage of nurses undermines Government Health Strategy

29 June, 2004

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has stated that the shortage of nurses as highlighted by the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) is undermining the Government's Health Strategy and is a "crisis in the making".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The INO has highlighted the expected rise in vacant nursing places from 700 currently to over 2,000 within 18 months. This is a cause of huge concern and totally undermines the Government's Health Strategy. It is a further crisis in the making in our health services.

"In a Dáil reply to me last week, the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin TD repeated the target in the National Health Strategy that by the end of 2004 all public patients requiring admission to hospital will be scheduled to commence treatment within a maximum of three months of referral from an out-patient department. With the worsening nursing shortage, this and many other targets in the Government's Health Strategy will not and cannot be met.

"The disastrous health policy of this Government has created a vicious circle. The chaotic state of the public health system is driving people away from the nursing profession. The shortage of nurses then contributes to the chaos. The Government has postponed indefinitely the Nurses and Midwives Bill, which is to implement the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on Nursing. The Commission reported in 1998, yet six years later we have no legislation and nursing is in crisis. The Government must bring forward the Bill and it must tell us how it is going to avert a catastrophic shortage of nurses in the next 18 months." ENDS

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