The Nurses Dispute

April 25, 2007

So the HSE has finally started talks with the Nurses though not without some hiccups along the way. What the outcome will be is anyone’s guess at this stage but one thing’s for sure – if Ireland is to continue to have the high standard of nursing it has presently then it’s in everyone’s interest to get this unrest in the nursing profession sorted, and quickly. The working conditions for Irish nurses leave a lot to be desired. Would you continue to work in a job in which you felt demoralised? Is it any wonder that nurses are leaving the profession in droves to work elsewhere?

My worry is that our health service is becoming just like the NHS – target driven. Anyone who saw that recent BBC television series presented by Gerry Robinson, about the NHS in Rotherham, will know what I’m talking about. However, I also speak from personal experience having returned from the UK last month following major surgery in an NHS hospital. As an in-patient, I was shocked and saddened to witness firsthand the level to which nursing care has been depleted in the NHS. My surroundings were spotless – in complete contrast to our filthy Irish hospitals – but compassion seemed to have been struck off the list. Not one nurse asked throughout my stay “How are you today?” and there was no banter to be had unless I initiated it. Pills were simply dispensed throughout the day according to the instructions on your chart. I’m not saying that the nurses were unfriendly but they certainly didn’t go out of their way to make conversation. I got the distinct impression that NHS nursing was all about ‘ticking the boxes’ and meeting’ targets’. And you can definitely forget about getting clean sheets each day – you’ll be lucky to get your bed made at all!

You see this is where I think we’re spoilt in Ireland. Our nurses, granted with some exceptions, are friendly and for the most part it seems to be part of their job spec to interact with their patients. I’d really hate to see nursing in Ireland become like that in the NHS.

Take note Mary Harney – we should treasure what we have!