Thursday 22 March 2018

'We would be thanking God everyone was still alive at the end of our shifts' - Irish nurse on 'stressful' work environment

  • Claimed some days patient to staff ratio was 18:1
  • Says students given 'too much' responsibility
  • 'They hire staff that don't have that much experience'

Transgender reassignment or sex-change procedures are not performed in Ireland (Stock picture)
Transgender reassignment or sex-change procedures are not performed in Ireland (Stock picture)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A nurse who worked in the neurosurgery department of one of Ireland's busiest hospitals has spoken out about some of the "awful" days she experienced.

Sarah*, who recently moved to Australia in pursuit of better pay and working conditions, said that some days patients would outnumber staff by 18:1.

On Wednesday it was announced that Irish nurses will carry out a work-to-rule from Tuesday, March 7.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the planned industrial action could eventually escalate to strikes.

General Secretary Liam Doran cited "unsafe and dangerously overcrowded" work environments and severe understaffing problems as some of the reasons behind their decision. spoke to a nurse who stressed how some days, staff were under so much pressure, they would "thank God everyone was still alive" at the end of their shifts.

"In neurosurgery, patients have the ability to become unwell in the blink of an eye and some days you would be outnumbered by 18:1," Sarah said.

"Before I left for Australia, the working conditions were awful. They were hiring staff that didn't have that much experience in an acute setting. This meant it was more stressful for the other staff on the floor as they were managing other peoples work loads."

With rent of €500 to pay each month excluding bills, and a salary of just under €2,000, Sarah said it made sense to move to Australia.

"The pay is a joke compared to other countries like Australia. Bus drivers get paid more than nurses and guards in Ireland.

"Also, they expect students to take on the role of a nurse as there simply isn't enough staff.

"Saying all that, I did still love the thrill of it, but I hope when I return to Ireland, all this industrial action will have stopped and working conditions for nurses will have improved. I'm not holding my breath, though."

Members of INMO's Executive Council rejected a management proposal to hire 1,200 extra nurses in a bid to resolve a dispute over staff shortages.

The number of nurses stood at 35,835 last year, or 32pc of the workforce, compared with 39,006 in 2007 despite significant population growth and a greater number of over-65s.

The INMO had also complained that the process of hiring was tied up in bureaucracy and claimed the government refused to guarantee that sufficient funds would be made available to mean that all Irish-trained nurses and midwives that graduated last year would get jobs.

Nationwide action will commence on March 7, when nurses and midwives will refuse to work overtime, cover for colleagues or be redeployed to other locations.

*Sarah was used to protect the person's real identity.

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