'This is a picture of four psych nurses walking to work because we are the bottom of the pile'
Nurse's rant to Health Minister goes viral
A psychiatric nurse has penned a strongly-worded message to Health Minister Simon Harris after sharing a photo of her and three colleagues walking to work during Storm Emma.
Aoife Butler (23), from Co Wexford, felt psychiatric nurses were "the bottom of the pile" during the blizzard conditions as they struggled to get lifts from emergency personnel.
"For some unfortunate reason people must think mental health goes away when the snow comes. Or maybe we are not seen as 'real nurses'," she said.
"As a newly qualified nurse I’ve learned so much already about this country and how we are valued. But still, we put on our boots and walk to work.
"These are the kind of nurses you are losing to other countries."
Aoife works as a nurse in Waterford and said that two of the four girls - all in their 20s - are planning to leave Ireland in January 2019 to work in Australia, where their "quality of life will be much better."
Speaking to Independent.ie, Aoife said that she wasn't complaining about walking to work, as she realises many people were forced to. Her post was about the bigger picture and highlighting how young nurses aren't appreciated here.
"I've received a lot of positive, supportive messages. I wasn't giving out about the snow, but about the state of the health service in general. I wanted to highlight how young, dedicated people like us feel we have to leave Ireland because the opportunities simply aren't here.
"We want to do our best but there is no incentive for us to stay."
Psychiatric nurses in Waterford voted for strike action last month in a dispute over staff shortages and overcrowding.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) commenced industrial action on February 20.
"This is a picture of four nurses in the Waterford services that are also in the middle of industrial action to highlight the poor working conditions, with overcrowding and under-staffing," Aoife said.
"This is a picture of four psychiatric nurses who had to walk to work because being psychiatric nurses we are bottom of the pile."
Nurses were forced to sleep in crowded conditions in hospitals across the country as a result of the havoc caused by Storm Emma.
An image obtained by Independent.ie showed at least 14 mattresses cramped into a room in the education centre at Tallaght Hospital.
"This is no way for staff to be treated, they should be put up in proper accommodation and not forced to share a crowded room between up to 14 people. There should also be a level of privacy," a source said.