Sunday 23 October 2016

'I realised there was nothing bright and rewarding about my career' - Nurse writes open letter to the HSE

Catherine Devine

Published 02/08/2016 | 11:07

Irish nurse who graduated during nursing pay cuts said she works two jobs to pay her bills.| Stock image
Irish nurse who graduated during nursing pay cuts said she works two jobs to pay her bills.| Stock image

A newly qualified nurse has spoken out against the stress and grief at work and said “it’s no wonder” that Irish nurses are emigrating.

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“I qualified as a nurse last year. Since I entered a bright and rewarding future when I started my nurse training, I gradually realised there was nothing bright and rewarding about it,” the nurse who wishes to remain anonymous said.

In an open letter the nurse pleads with the HSE to be paid fairly for her work and said she works two jobs so she can afford accommodation and transport.

“I thought when I became an intern, things would be better. However at €6.49 per hour and with as little premium pay as possible to facilitate permanent staff and a lack of preceptor support, not much changed. As soon as I signed my contract as an intern student, I commenced nursing duties that I now know would not have happened in other services. They didn't care about my safety. They didn't care about the patients. I was a number,” she said.

Traditionally, fourth year student nurses were paid for the final 36 weeks of their training spent in a clinical setting. However as part of budget cuts in 2010 the then government decided to phase out payment for the clinical placement, and to abolish incremental credit for intern student nurses who trained between 2011 and 2015.

When qualified and if given a contract, they proceeded to increment one of the staff scale. Traditionally, they would proceed to increment two after a year working, but this was stopped.

The nurse said she was offered a three month contract at increment one level “with no idea where in the country” she would be sent.

“I said no because I've had my fill. I moved away and got a permanent in a service that appreciated the care I gave to my patients,” she said.

The nurse she’s happy that the new intern nurses received a pay rise and start on increment level two when they get a permanent contract.

From March 1, around 1,400 fourth year student nurses received €9.48 per hour - equivalent to 70pc of the first point of the staff nurses incremental pay scale.

Upon graduation, they will move to the second point of the staff nurse scale (€29,497) after 16 weeks - which represents an increase of over €2,000.

The compulsory 36-week hospital training placement will also be recognised officially as time served for the incremental scale.

“However- those of us who had to put up with the staff cut, pay cut, extra work...we fought for you to get that. We pushed for those protests.

“What thanks do we get? You will get paid more than us when you qualify. We will be responsible to facilitate your transition to staff nurse, supervise your practice, mentor you and all on top of our own caseload while getting paid less.

“We will be further down the ladder than you.”

The nurse said it’s “no wonder” that Irish nurses are emigrating as “we jump through hoops and all we get is pain and disappointments”.

“It's just not enough. Take care of your nurses Ireland, because they're all booking flights to Australia as we speak.”

The HSE have been contacted for comment.

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