Press Release

SIPTU representatives raise concerns on proposed staffing model for the National Children's Hospital

Date Released: 30 April 2019

SIPTU representatives have today (Tuesday, 30th April) raised concerns that the formula used to determine safe staffing levels for the new National Children's Hospital could potentially lead to a shortfall of almost 400 nursing posts.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The National Children's Hospital Workforce Framework Report, due to be launched on Wednesday (1st May), will raise a number of issues which are of deep concern. The proposed methodology used to determine the nursing workforce has not been subject to robust examination and external expert scrutiny. The recommended formula for calculating the nurse to health care assistant ratio is proposed at 90:10. This will mean, if the report is accepted, that when the hospital opens its doors there will be an immediate shortfall of just under 400 nursing posts due to this ratio alone. That is unacceptable for staff, for the children of Ireland and their families.”
 
“SIPTU representatives have also based our concerns by noting the findings of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Ireland. Launched last year by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, the report recommended a safe staffing skill-mix of 80:20 for adult surgical and medical wards. While adult and paediatric services are different on a number of grounds, SIPTU representatives highlighted the extensive international and national research undertaken in order to establish and recommend the safe staffing levels for acute adult surgical/medical areas and raised concerns on the apparent omission of a similar process for the National Children’s Hospital.”
 
“As a key stakeholder on the National Nursing Workforce Planning Group for the new National Children’s Hospital, SIPTU representatives have consistently sought assurances on any proposed safe staffing skill-mix model. The ratio of 90:10 proposed between nurses and health care assistants is at variance with a model of 70:30 in the UK for similar services in that jurisdiction. There is a responsibility on the Department of Health and Health Service Executive to explain this, and to provide evidence supporting their proposals as an international standard for safe care. Modern healthcare is made up of a multi-disciplinary team with responsibility allocated appropriate to the grade, qualification and training of the staff concerned.”
 
He added: “There is a very real chance the high ratio proposed is not achievable given that 400 nursing vacancies will arise immediately on acceptance of the report. Aside from the fact such large numbers of qualified paediatric nurses may not be available for hire, significant costs will arise if the staffing skill-mix model is inconsistent with international best practice and norms. The proposed skill-mix is also inconsistent with a previous report from the HSE. A National Model of Care for Paediatric Healthcare Services in Ireland. Published in 2015, the report recommended that: “The role of the health care assistant (HCA) should be developed to support paediatric care delivery and the paediatric workforce should work in an integrated way to maximise opportunities for greater quality of care to children and their families.”

SIPTU Industrial Organiser John McCamley said: “It is important that safe staffing in any healthcare facility is based on clinical need, established evidence and international best practice. As members of the steering group for the National Nursing Workforce Planning Group for the new National Children’s Hospital, SIPTU representatives cannot stand over the report until a number of fundamental questions are answered.”


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