Sunday 21 July 2019

Striking nurses will not back down, says Yvonne

Yvonne Longmore and Amanda O’Neill.
Yvonne Longmore and Amanda O’Neill.

Yvonne Longmore from Bray is a nurse at St Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown. While she was working yesterday on the scheduled arrest team, she was on the picket the previous work for the first day of industrial action.

'There has been huge support from the public,' said Yvonne, who said that passing motorists hadn't stopped sounding their horns - ;cars, coaches, bus drivers, lorries and ambulances', and patients and their families had even joined the nurses on the picket line.

She said that food and refreshments had been dropped to the picket from various businesses and individuals, including Four Star Pizza in Bray.

'It's about pay parity, patient safety and safer staffing numbers,' said Yvonne. 'We are degree qualified nurses but we're not getting paid at degree level. OUr colleagues in the health and social sectors such as physiotherapists receive a higher salary and it goes up quicker. Even at the end after 10 years qualified, we are on less. We work longer hours so the basic rate per hour is even lower again. We also work antisocial hours. We were never on the right rate, even prior to the recession.'

Yvonne said that student nurses are leaving Ireland due to a combination of factors, including pay, patient rations, and stress on the wards. 'There are not enough people on the floor,' she said. 'Our population is getting older which means there are huge added complexities to looking after them.

'The daily routines involve constant stress. People aren't sleeping, wondering "what have I done? What haven't I done?" to the point of calling the ward perhaps in the middle of the night to check in on a patient or make sure they hadn't forgotten to do something.

'You don't leave the job at home,' she said. Yvonne has been nursing for the past 16 years.

'Morale is down. I absolutely love my job and wouldn't change my profession, but it's hard to watch as it is. Many nurses have continued their studies to do a master's degree or higher diploma. They don't get paid accordingly but they do that for the welfare of their patients.

'No day is ever the same,' said Yvonne. She said some duties include medication rounds, ward rounds, family meetings, documentation, dressings and much more. 'A nurse's work is never done,' she said. 'None of us wants to be out on strike but the Government holds the key. We won't back down, we ain't going to crumble any time soon.'

Bray People