Implementation of the agreement reached in relation to nurses and midwives has commenced. Rather than a ‘pay deal’, the agreement is made up of a number of elements intended to improve the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives.
It provides for the introduction of the Enhanced Practice nurse/midwife roles, as well as a range of other measures. It commits to the continued roll-out of the Framework on Safe Staffing and Skill Mix already underway. The initial focus has been on the introduction of the new enhanced roles. The HSE issued a circular opening the Enhanced Practice role to eligible applicants on 23rd August 2019.
The agreement also includes the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission in relation to allowances and accelerated progression for certain nursing and midwifery grades. The HSE has issued a circular giving effect to these allowance increases. The HSE is also continuing to work on the extension of the qualification/location allowance to medical surgical areas. Progress has been made in resolving outstanding issues in relation to psychiatric nurses and the enhanced practice contract and increased allowances will soon be made available to these nurses also.
The HSE has a detailed implementation plan in place and is monitoring the actions set out in this plan.
Labour Court recommendation LCR21900 provides for ‘independent verification mechanism’ to ensure that savings are delivered from this agreement. Consideration is still being given to how such a mechanism would operate and its membership. In the meantime, the agreement, in particular the enhanced practice roles, needs to be given time to have an impact on the health services, before consideration could be given to pausing elements of it.