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Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have voted in favour of accepting the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020.

IMO members voted to accept the agreement with a majority of 85 per cent. Dr Ann Hogan, IMO President, stated that while Council recommended acceptance and the members voted in favour of the agreement, doctors remain concerned about the crisis of recruitment and retention in our public health services.

She said: “It is up to the Government now to make good on its commitments within the agreement to seriously address and implement policies that will stem the tide of emigration among the medical profession and create instead an environment where our young doctors see their future careers in Ireland and can be assured of equity in terms of pay and conditions along with realistic career progression.

“Even since the negotiations on this agreement, the lack of planning in relation to medical manpower has been exposed by our over reliance on locums in our services and the scandalous situation where we have almost 400 vacant consultant posts.  It is imperative that the Recruitment and Retention process as discussed with the IMO is commenced immediately”, Dr Hogan asserted.

Following a three-week, nationwide workplace balloting, members of the INMO also voted to accept the agreement, with 75 per cent in favour.

The INMO highlighted the need to address the recruitment and retention section of the agreement too.

This section provides for the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC), through the use of relevant experts, to identify all measures necessary to address this crisis that is currently facing nursing/midwifery.

An agreement has been reached that the PSPC will issue its first modular report, involving nursing/midwifery, in the second quarter of 2018.

The INMO will engage with this process and are hopeful that a meeting will be held within four weeks of the PSPC issued report to discuss implementation of all measures recommended.

Commenting on the ballot outcome Ms. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary Designate, said: “We look forward to engaging with the PSPC, in the coming weeks, if the agreement is ratified, allowing it to report in the second quarter of 2018”.

The General Secretary warned: “The government and health service management now have one further opportunity, under this agreement, to address our parity claim, with other degree level health professionals, and any failure, or hesitancy, to do so will not be tolerated by our members”.

Minister Harris expressed his delight at the outcomes of both ballots.

He reiterated his department’s commitment to the Nursing Agreement, concluded earlier this year. In relation to the INMO’s concerns, he commented: “The Public Service Pay Commission has already noted the recruitment difficulties in nursing and midwifery. This result will allow the Commission give full consideration to these difficulties and the issues highlighted by the INMO in the coming months”.

Regarding the IMO vote, he claimed: “The Pay Commission will also be examining difficulties in recruitment and retention in certain consultant specialties, NCHDs and other medical grades”.