THERE are around 100 nursing vacancies across two Cork hospitals and community services and these gaps pose serious risks for patients, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
Speaking to The Echo, INMO Industrial Relations Officer for Cork, Liam Conway, said there are around 60 vacancies at Cork University Hospital (CUH).
He added there are around 30 at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) along with a further 10 public health nursing vacancies in the North Lee.
Mr Conway said that delays in recruiting frontline staff are posing serious risks to the health service and patients in Cork and across Ireland
“The HSE needs to staff the frontline and stop using funds as an excuse - you can’t put a price on health,” he said. “The North Lee public health team is operating without around 15% of its nursing workforce because people on maternity leave and long-term sick leave are not being covered.
“Public health services in the community setting, which are critical for ensuring people get the care they need without going to hospitals like CUH, are suffering due to unfilled vacancies.
“In a predominantly female workforce, the HSE has to be prepared to cover maternity leave.”
The INMO has sent an initial list of vacant nursing and midwifery positions to the HSE, which it claims are not being filled due to an embargo on hiring.
The unfilled posts include 103 staff midwife roles, 325 permanent staff nurse roles and more than 120 temporary nursing posts. “There is a serious risk to patients posed by delays in recruitment,” said Mr Conway.
“It’s now out of the hands of local management here in Cork because they have to seek approval for every post that needs to be recruited.”
Mr Conway said that this is even the case for posts recently vacated due to retirements or resignations.
“These vacancies are being left vacant for far too long because of the bureaucratic process involved in appointing replacements,” he added.
“This is causing serious risks to the service and patients in it.
“The HSE claim there is no recruitment embargo but that is the reality we’re seeing on the ground everyday,” he said.
“These delays in recruiting staff, especially coming into the winter period, will have a hugely detrimental effect on services across the country as well as right here in Cork and Kerry.
“The frontline needs to be staffed but resources are being put towards overspend in national projects like the National Children’s Hospital, and are being taken away from the frontline.
“I am very concerned for services in Cork as we head into the autumn and winter period with the current recruitment difficulties in place.”
The South-South West Hospital Group and HSE were contacted for comment.