Thursday 14 December 2017

What nurse in their right mind would want to come home?

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

I am writing this from my hospital bed where I am acutely grateful and relieved when a nurse appears. Actually, I don't even know if they are nurses, as everyone has a different outfit and exotic name. A very cool nurse-man, a bit like Kanye West, took my temperature last night.

Historically, the qualities and standards set by the social reformer Florence Nightingale established the nursing profession as a noble and caring one. It is a serious vocation, not a profession you would drift into, and for more than 20 years it has had university degree status in Ireland. It is not only the expertise you rely on when you are vulnerable in hospital, it is the personality, warmth and unique temperament that helps the spirit to recover.

But the Government has made another grand mess in this area. Four years ago this week, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warned of a looming shortage. One-thousand nurses retired in 2011 and 1,500 new graduates emigrated. Nurse numbers continued to decrease under the moratorium on jobs in the health service.

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