Further delays to children’s hospital if accommodation for staff not provided, warns union

INMO tells Government recruitment and retention crisis will only worsen with nurses priced out of housing around hospitals

There will be further delays to the rolling out of services at the new national children’s hospital unless affordable accommodation is provided for the nurses needed to staff the new facility, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned.

The union says its members are being increasingly priced out of the housing market in Dublin and the areas around other major hospitals. The union told Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien at a meeting last month that subsidised accommodation must be included in plans for new hospitals if proposals to significantly increase the number of hospital beds are to be realistic.

In a letter to the Minister proposing a meeting, which took place on March 8th, the union’s general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, warned Mr O’Brien that the issue would impact on the schedule for the opening of the new national children’s hospital which is intended to begin operating at the end of 2024 or in early 2025.

“The new children’s hospital is in the city centre and provision for suitable, affordable accommodation for the essential workers that will be needed to work there has not been made. This will delay opening and needs to be addressed to ensure all areas of this expensive hospital can open and function with safe staffing levels.”


About 5,000 staff will work at the hospital which will have 380 single occupancy rooms, 22 operating theatres and provide a wide range of clinical services.

On Sunday the property website MyHome.ie listed 10 properties, excluding those intended for students, for rent in the Dublin 8 area with one-beds ranging from €1,331 to €1,800 per month and two-beds costing between €1,728 and €3,069.

The union says €1,800 would represent 77 per cent of a newly qualified nurse’s take-home pay.

The availability of accommodation and childcare in the area is also a concern for junior doctors, with many already faced with significant challenges on both fronts as they are required to move between hospitals during the early part of their careers.

The INMO told Mr O’Brien and his officials that the provision of housing was routinely a key element in packages offered by health authorities and hospitals in countries recruiting Irish nurses and midwives.

In Ireland, by contrast, the cost of housing was regularly cited by newly-qualified nurses as a reason for going overseas and Ms Ní Sheaghdha pointed to the example of a recent graduating class at a major Dublin training hospital where fewer than half – 43 per cent – had stayed on after qualification.

The union said “the salary required for a single buyer of a property in Dublin is far beyond the salary of a staff nurse and midwife. Even as a couple, the salary necessary is at the upper end of the staff nurse/midwife salary scale. This makes the purchase of a home impossible for many nurses and midwives”.

In the week that the temporary ban on evictions ended, the union said the issue is no closer to being resolved.

“Affordable accommodation in proximity to healthcare settings should not be a pipeream for nurses and midwives who work long hours,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.

“Provision of housing assistance, subsidisation, and zoned areas in any planning for hospital builds such as the new National Children’s Hospital or the proposed new elective hospital in Cork City should be a prerequisite provision for such sites. Government should not be contemplating opening more beds without a plan to house those who will staff them.

“We have made it clear to Government representatives that if we want to ensure safe staffing levels and expand the number of beds and services in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and other large urban areas we must ensure that there are homes that nurses and midwives can afford to live in.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing said the Minister had discussed “Government plans to significantly increase the supply of social, affordable purchase, cost rental and private homes for rent and sale” with the union’s representatives and said a new unit had been established in the department to drive the availability of affordable homes.

“Affordability is something the Department takes very seriously, we understand the need to significantly scale it up which will in turn help all people and professions, including key workers such as healthcare staff,” they said.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times