Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called for the nurses retention bill to be scrapped this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that the treatment of nurses who were being asked to pay a €100 rentention fee in a difficult year was in sharp contrast to the bonus Scottish nurses were receiving.

“In Scotland the NHS are paying nurses a £500 bonus payment this Christmas. Here in Ireland the HSE expects nurses to pay a hundred euro retention fee. And yet the government can’t understand why retention of our skilled nurses is such a problem. This year has been extraordinary, and we’ve all seen how hard nurses have been working. At the start of the pandemic, nurses stepped up to the plate and began working long shifts, in many cases without access to PPE and living in separate quarters to their family members in order to reduce the risk of spread of the virus. We need to show our appreciation for that incredible work and provide our nurses with a bonus this year,”  he said.

“For years now successive governments have treated nurses with contempt. Yesterday Minister Simon Harris took to twitter to say he was “thinking about all the incredible people who work for the HSE”. This is the man who as Minister for Health said that financial penalties against striking nurses would be considered. He also promised to pay student nurses and midwives back in March but then failed to fulfil that promise when he was appointed Minister for Higher Education,” continued Deputy Tóibín.

“Its nice to hear that government Ministers are thinking about nurses, but its time for them to now act and ensure that the nurses’ retention fee does not apply this year. A clap in the Dáil does nothing for improving conditions or pay. It is the view of Aontú that these nurses need to be utterly commended for their hard work, and should not be expected to pay a retention fee”, concluded Tóibín.