Wednesday 17 July 2019

'I love my work, but do ask myself "why am I putting up with this?"' - nurse speaks out ahead of national strike

  • Nurse and mother-of-two Catherine Sheridan speaks out as nurses prepare to strike this week
  • Strike by more than 40,000 nurses is due to clash with some of the most bitter weather the country has endured this winter
  • Wage rise is ruled out but there is speculation a commission to examine nurses' pay may be brought forward
Paediatric nurse Catherine Sheridan from Galway. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Paediatric nurse Catherine Sheridan from Galway. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Anne-Marie Walsh

Mother-of-two Catherine Sheridan is a 46-year-old children's nurse who works in Co Galway. She said she's striking because of what she sees "every single day".

She is among 40,000 nurses including staff nurses, midwives and psychiatric nurses who are getting ready to mount pickets this Wednesday. They want a 12pc pay rise to put their wages on a par with other professional grades.

"It's as simple as that," said Ms Sheridan, who grew up in Carna, Connemara.

"Nurses and midwives are facing absolutely dire working conditions every day. The pay levels just aren't attractive enough to retain nursing staff. Working short has become the new normal for us."

She said paediatric nursing requires specialist training and nurses with particular skills who can look after sick children. "But they're leaving. Poor pay and conditions are driving them out.

"These are highly skilled, dedicated nurses, and they're burning out. I love nursing. But I do ask myself, what am I doing here, 'why am I putting up with this?'"

Ms Sheridan speaks out as nurses prepare to strike this week.

However, the strike is due to clash with some of the most bitter weather the country has endured this winter - posing a risk to patients with respiratory diseases and people vulnerable to heart attacks.

Strike

The strike will also hit pregnant women whose outpatient appointments are being cancelled.

If they experience problems with their pregnancy on Wednesday they will have to queue in the A&E of their maternity hospital.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), held contingency plan talks with strike committees across the country yesterday.

It comes as more chaos looms today when the executive of the National Ambulance Representative Association meets and is expected to sanction a series of strikes.

It follows last week's action over the right to union representation which forced Army paramedics to be drafted in.

Members of the INMO, which is seeking a pay rise for staff nurses which employers say would cost €300m, will withdraw their labour on Wednesday except for emergency cover.

The HSE spokeswoman said local injury units will be shut.

Cancer surgery will go ahead but no other planned operations will take place. All outpatient appointments will be cancelled. Medical abortions will be confined to women who may go over the 12-week time limit if they are delayed.

In the community, all day centres for older people or people with disabilities, where nurses are employed, will close as will all routine community nursing services and health centre clinics where nurses participate.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Simon Harris said he is urging both sides of use "the time and mechanisms available to avoid this dispute".

A wage rise is ruled out but there is speculation a commission to examine nurses' pay may be brought forward.

Irish Independent

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