Nursing announcement provides further evidence of State abusing dominance within health sector

 

Abuse of anti-competitive rules and taxpayer funds may be breaching EU Directives

 

Workforce plan required for entire health service & increase in undergraduate nursing places

 

The State may be abusing EU competition rules by using taxpayers' funds to try to monopoly hire all nurses in the State.

 

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, said that his organisation will consider reporting Ireland to the European Commission if equality of treatment is not applied in the payment of fees to HSE and private and voluntary nursing homes. Mr Daly also accused the Government of contradicting its own purported ideology of enabling care to be removed from acute settings and provided within the community. He said the State ignoring of nursing needs within care in the community will result in measures such as those announced today becoming counterproductive and will impose further pressures upon provision of nursing care in the community and wider healthcare delivery.

 

He said: “Today’s announcement is further evidence of abuse by the State of its dominance within the health sector. How can the State push primary care provision and then seek to hold a monopoly over the hiring of graduate nurses? How can it advance primary care when it is acting in a blatantly discriminatory manner in the payment of fees for nursing home care?”

 

“Initiatives should be focussed on recruiting additional nurses for the entire health service and focussed upon adding to the pool of available nurses. There is an urgent requirement for the Department to work with all stakeholders to develop a workforce plan for the entire health service, and ensure planning and resourcing is not confined to the public system. This consistent call continues to go unheeded, as requirement for clinical care continues to grow across all nursing disciplines. NHI calls for an immediate increase in the number of undergraduate nursing places to enable Ireland meet the growing requirement for nursing  within our acute and primary care settings.”

 

“Minister Harris speaks of valuing and respecting nurses and we support his sincerity in this regard. Nor do we object to nurses within the HSE being paid and treated fairly. However, the nursing discipline extends beyond the HSE and acute hospitals.  We must focus upon the necessity to plan and resource for nursing across a range of disciplines, including nursing homes”.  

 

“Who will meet our older population’s complex care needs in the community? Without the State addressing the severe inequities within our nursing home care sector, today’s measure will tie the hands of nursing homes seeking to recruit and retain nurses. This will lead to closure of nursing home beds and prove counterproductive for healthcare delivery and to Government objectives of providing care in the community”

 

“If the State continues to not acknowledge the true cost of nursing care within the community through its low-balling of nursing home fees, our organisation will have no choice but to block plans by the State to further abuse its dominant position.

 

“Today we are again witnessing the State abusing its dominant position within health while at the same time driving cost pressures for the private sector. The measures announced will seek to provide it with a monopoly on the hiring of nursing graduates. Once again its actions in the hiring of nurses will target private and voluntary nursing homes, a sector it has a monopolistic hold over. Private and voluntary nursing homes are entirely dependent upon fees payable by the State through the Fair Deal scheme for their survival. The State continues to supress the fees it pays such nursing homes. Cost of care figures published last week revealed astonishing discrepancies across the country in fees payable to HSE nursing homes as opposed to private and voluntary counterparts. Last week’s figures highlighted the State paying its nursing homes four to seven times the amount it pays private and voluntary counterparts.

 

“Private and voluntary nursing homes are being consistently informed through the fee negotiation process that resources are not available to acknowledge the real costs being incurred to provide nursing home care. Yet today’s announcement highlights when the State wants to find the resources for its own purposes, it can find the means to do so. It’s actions today are those of self-preservation.”

 

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO is available for further comment. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 087 9082970 or 01 4699806.

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