News Editorial

Monday 15 September 2014

Health service losing too many frontline staff

Published 29/04/2014 | 02:30

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It is quite shocking to think that over the past five years our health service has lost twice as many nurses as administrators. At a time when services continue to be stretched, sometimes to almost unbearable levels, it is disheartening to learn that since 2007, 5,197 nurses have left the service, compared with 2,917 administrators.

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The public service seems to go in for 'across the board' rather than targeted redundancy programmes, which have the effect of incentivising those who can easily get another job to leave.

It seems that some of the nurses have been replaced by lower-grade 'healthcare assistants', who carry out non-clinical tasks for patients, and have a place in our hospitals. But in terms of costs alone it is dispiriting to think of the money the State has invested in their education and then encouraged them to walk away.

It is also questionable that so many Leaving Cert students who want to go into nursing are prevented from doing so by the points system, which seems to be actively working against having a plentiful supply of properly trained nurses. Instead, many students must emigrate to England and the United States where they are welcomed into nursing with open arms.

This latest report also reveals a reduction in support staff – such as porters, cleaners and ward assistants – as hospital executives seek to further cut costs. Whatever about budgetary constraints, which are certainly needed in the health service, it remains imperative that the sick and the injured should see the human side of the health service, which is why frontline staff like nurses and doctors are so important.

Irish Independent

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