Press Release

Minister Varadkar addresses All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers’ Conference in Belfast

The second All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers’ Conference is taking place in Titanic, Belfast today, Wednesday 18 November 2015. The theme of the conference is ‘Leading and Shaping the Nursing and Midwifery Agenda — An All-Ireland Approach’.

The conference is being jointly hosted by Dr Siobhan O’Halloran, Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health, and Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland.

Minister Leo Varadkar addressed the conference and thanked nurses and midwives for their contribution to the health service. He also acknowledged the challenge in recruiting nurses and midwives but advised that progress was being made.

He highlighted the cross-border co-operation in health care, including shared services for radiation oncology, paediatric cardiac surgery, public health and out-of-hours GP services.

He stressed his ongoing support for the work of the Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing, chaired by the Chief Nurse Dr. Siobhan O’Halloran, in developing a framework to determine the safe staffing and skill mix requirements for the nursing workforce in general, and specialist medical and surgical care settings.

The Minister said: “I recently received and approved the Taskforce’s Interim Report on the framework. I was pleased to see how the evidence will inform decisions, and that there is a focus on patient-centred KPIs, like falls and pressure sores, which is very positive. Many still need to be convinced of the merits of this approach to staffing and skill mix, so work has now begun on an extensive pilot to be run next year.”

At today’s event, the Chief Nursing Officers’ award for ‘Excellence in Cross Border Nursing’ is being awarded to Anne Gallen and Alan Cory Finn for establishing the Cross Border Senior Nurses and Midwives Forum. This award recognises innovation and excellence in patient care within the border region or on an all-island basis. The award is accompanied by a training bursary provided by Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT).

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Notes for Editors
1. In 2013, the Department of Health appointed Dr Siobhan O’Halloran as its first Chief Nursing Officer at Assistant Secretary level. This appointment is designed to ensure that the role of nursing and midwifery perspective is brought to bear on the development of policy.
2. The second All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers’ Conference will take place on 18 November 2015 in Titanic, Belfast. The Conference is being jointly hosted by Dr O’Halloran and the Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland (Ms Charlotte McArdle). The first All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers’ Conference took place on 1 December 2014 in Dublin Castle.
3. A Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing was established in 2014. Its objective is to develop a framework to determine the staffing and skill mix requirements for the nursing workforce that take account of a number of influencing factors. Phase I is focused on general and specialist medical and surgical care settings in adult hospitals. The Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing has developed an Interim Report on the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Adult Hospitals in Ireland. It is intended that pilot implementation of the framework will take place in 2016.
4. Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) is a partnership between the Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that facilitates cross border collaborative working in health and social care. CAWT has funded the award for excellence in cross border nursing.