Longstanding community activist and IRSP spokesperson Lucy Callaghan expressed her concerns at the prospect of losing a further 150 nursing Jobs within the Western Health & Social Care Trust as part of the 500 nursing job cuts scheduled throughout this year. “This is only the tip of the iceberg”, said Ms Callaghan as a further 1500 nursing posts are feared to be at risk under the proposed budget drafted by Sinn Fein and the DUP. Added to this we believe that 4000 jobs throughout the North are under threat under the proposed budget.
Miss Callaghan commented: “With nurses already facing a two year pay freeze at a time of increased living costs and inflation, it is disgraceful that the proposals under the draft budget will increase the already unacceptable pressures on nursing staff thus jeopardising patient safety and job security. It is deplorable that nurses or patients should be made suffer as a result of Sinn Fein and the DUP’s failure to adequately provide for health in their draft proposal.”
She went on: “We have contacted the Royal College of Nursing assuring them of our support and intention to lobby on their behalf. I intend to raise these concerns with the Health Minister in order to ascertain his rationale for decreasing the nursing workforce by 15% at a time when an increase of the same figure is required to meet the demand over the next four years. The effects of these decisions will be felt for years to come and obviously affect the job opportunities for the 722 nurses (2000+ during the past three years) who are currently attending nursing courses in universities in Coleraine and Derry, each of whom are hoping to qualify and secure a nursing career.”
Miss Callaghan described the effect of proposed cuts: “We are hearing anecdotally of nursing students who are nearing the end of their studies applying for jobs overseas, some as far away as New Zealand and Australia. This situation in which students have given three years of their lives studying for nursing qualifications is a slap in the face to those students, many of whom will not find employment as a result of financial attacks on the health service.
Miss Callaghan concluded by saying: “As a party of the working class the IRSP have always demanded the best possible health service universally free of charge to all people. We have a responsibility to fight for the rights of the working class communities and those nurses who provide an invaluable service to our communities, it is for this reason that the IRSP oppose this draft budget.”