Fórsa’s health division leader has called on the Public Service Pay Commission to press on with examinations of recruitment and retention difficulties in the health professions, social care and elsewhere, now that it has concluded its work on nurses and medical consultants.
Head of the union's Health and Welfare division, Éamonn Donnelly (pictured) also warned of pressure for further pay claims in the health sector and elsewhere if some groups of workers were to be granted pay benefits beyond those set out in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).
Donnelly repeated his earlier observation that the Public Service Pay Commission had already found that retention problems in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social care and elsewhere were more acute than in nursing.
“Staffing issues in the health and social care professions are making it even harder to sustain current community and hospital services, let alone work towards the ambitious service targets set out in Sláintecare. Now that it has published its report on nursing and medical consultants, it’s essential that the pay commission moves to the next module and starts work on a deeper study of recruitment and retention problems in other parts of the health service,” he said.
Earlier this year, Donnelly said no profession or union had “a monopoly” on the issue. Speaking at Fórsa’s national conference in May, he warned the Government to be even-handed in its response to the pay commission’s work.
“Therapists and other health professions have the highest level of churn in the health service, with the sole exception of consultants. Fórsa will not accept a situation where any profession or grade is treated more favourably than others in the Government’s response to the pay commission’s findings,” he said.
Under the current public service pay deal, the pay commission is to report on a range of professions where it earlier identified recruitment and retention issues. It focused on nurses and consultants first, but a range of other groups are now due to be addressed.
Its 2017 report, which formed the basis of negotiations that led to the Public Service Stability Agreement, included a chapter on recruitment and retention issues. It identified average turnover rates of 8% for health service therapy grades, and 8.8% for other health professions. This compared with 8.8% for consultants, 3.3% for public health nurses, 3.4% for nurse specialists, 5.7% for nurse managers, and 7.7% for staff nurses.
The SláinteCare report, which won cross-party support last year, envisages a substantial increase in the number of people working in the health and social care professions in order to deliver its vision of high quality, affordable care in community settings and hospitals.