More than 2000 nurses protested outside the offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) today (Tuesday ) in opposition to the decision of the Board to increase the Retention Fee from €88 a year ago to €150 from 2015.
The nurses were addressed by a nurse from each union attending the protest including the PNA Board Member and Trustee, Liz Collins who stated :
‘Today's protest sends the message to the NMBI that they cannot continue to expect nurses to pick up the tab when the Government refuses to contribute to the costs associated with protecting the public.'
‘We are told the Minister for Health wants the early introduction of Continuing Professional Development. The NMBI wants to satisfy the Minister's ambitions but Minister Varadkar needs to match his aspirations with the funds necessary to put in place the staff and infrastructure necessary for this process.'
‘The take-home pay of nurses has been reduced by around 25% in recent years, yet we have a Nursing Board which seems divorced from that reality. An increase of 80% in the Retention Fee in two years is absurd, unconscionable and unacceptable.'
Liz Collins said it is absolutely nonsensical that a profession which earns less is asked to pay more than those other professions in Retention Fees.
‘Nurses are now asking ‘ What does NMBI do for you?' and the answer is that apart from registering your qualification and taking your money –Nothing .'
PNA General Secretary, Des Kavanagh said the huge turnout at today's protest was a reflection of the anger of nurses at the NMBI's demand for yet another increase in the Retention Fee.'
‘The NMBI has sought to intimidate nurses by threatening to remove them from the Register and deny them the right to practice. The Board should not forget that any such actions would close hospitals and services overnight. This is something which should deeply concern the Government and HSE management ‘.
‘The message from today's protest is that this ‘threat' to nurses is in fact a much greater threat to the public. Nurses have given a clear response to the NMBI - We are not afraid.'