Monday 24 June 2019

'We don't seem to be getting closer to solving crisis' - Nurse on reality of working on the health frontline

Budget 2019: The reality of working in the health service in Ireland today

Bernie Stenson with her husband Barry, son Ryan, and daughters Isabelle, 6, Elise, 4 and Lilly, 7. Picture: Arthur Carron.
Bernie Stenson with her husband Barry, son Ryan, and daughters Isabelle, 6, Elise, 4 and Lilly, 7. Picture: Arthur Carron.

For mother of four Bernie Stenson and her husband Barry, Budget 2019 is a petty attempt to keep everyone happy for an impending election.

The advanced practitioner at a Dublin based hospital, believes any tax break her family are entitled to won’t make a dent on their costly monthly expenses. 

“My husband and I work extremely hard to support our family and benefiting from an extra €150 in tax relief isn’t going to have much of an impact at all.  

“I feel like nothing is being done for working couples. Thank God we bought or house when we did because there’s not a chance we’d be able to save for a mortgage while taking care of our family. 

“My four-year-old will benefit from the increase in the GP visitor card, but this will be miniscule.”

“It seems like this was simply an election budget created to keep everyone reasonably happy,” she said. 

Ms Stenson added that in her own profession, the pay for nurses is so bad that thousands continue to flee the country in search of better conditions. 

“At first glance it looks like a lot of money is going towards health, but they’re not saying where abouts. We’re always throwing money at the health sector, but we don’t seem to be getting any closer in solving this crisis. 

Bernie Stenson Picture: Arthur Carron.
Bernie Stenson Picture: Arthur Carron.

“Proper panning is essential, but there doesn’t seem to be any of that going on. It’s October already and we don’t even have a winter plan.

“I’m very disappointed that this budget doesn’t have anything significant for nurses. The rate they’re leaving this country is extraordinary and I don’t blame them.

“They work incredibly hard and the wage they’re on makes it impossible for them to save for a mortgage or have any real lifestyle if they live alone.

“I love nursing, but it’s a different environment now than it was when I first started 20 years ago. It’s frightening to think how worse the health sector can get if their conditions don’t improve.”

The INMO has welcomed the extra investment in Ireland’s public health service, but questioned the inaction on the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing and midwifery.

The organisation says the HSE has been unable to hire and retain sufficient nurses and midwives to run services, and have been forced to use expensive overseas recruiters and agency staff. Recruitment of overseas staff costs over €10,000 per person hired, and by July, agency nurses and midwives had already cost over €50m in 2018.

“With over 500 patients waiting on trolleys today, the health service is unable to cope.

“The HSE simply cannot hire enough on these pay levels and the exodus of Ireland’s highly trained nurses and midwives will continue,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

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