Nurses warn of crisis ahead of public meeting in Derry tonight

Nursing (David Jones/PA Wire)
Nursing (David Jones/PA Wire)

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have warned of a staffing crisis ahead of a public meeting in Derry tonight amid concerns over safety.

The RCN in Northern Ireland are holding the meeting to inform the people of Northern Ireland about the situation facing its members in the Health and Social Care service.

The meeting will be held in the Guildhall tonight, Wednesday May 15 from 7.30pm until 9.00pm.

All members of the public are invited to attend.

The meeting comes at a time when there are over 2,500 unfilled nursing posts across the system, with a similar level of vacancies estimated in nursing homes.

THE RCN warned that nurses’ pay within the health service in Northern Ireland continues to fall behind England, Scotland and Wales.

The real value of nurses’ pay in Northern Ireland has fallen by 15% over the last eight years, they have stated, whilst the cost of securing nursing staff via nursing agencies has increased to an all-time high of £32 million in 2017-2018.

The RCN said these factors have a direct impact upon the health and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland and the health and well-being of nursing staff, with long waiting lists and waiting times, difficulties in accessing services, and nurses so over-stretched that they are simply unable to provide the level of care to patients and their families that they are trained to provide and want to provide. The RCN believes there is a link between nursing shortages, cost-saving measures and low pay.

RCN Northern Ireland Director Pat Cullen said: “The health service in Northern Ireland is short of 2,103 registered nurses and a further 421 nursing assistants, around 12% of the total workforce.

“The RCN believes that the shortage of nursing staff has become a matter of public interest and a public safety issue, as nurses are raising their concerns that staffing shortages are affecting their ability to provide safe and effective care for patients. It is time to explain to the people of Northern Ireland why nursing services are now at crisis point, how this situation has developed, and seek their support for the measures that the RCN believes are necessary to resolve this crisis.”