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Nurses deserve better

Wednesday, 6th February, 2019 4:55pm

The nurses are striking. Why are they striking?

They are striking for a number of reasons.

In this week’s Indopinion on page 18, nurse, midwife and INMO member Naomi O’Donovan sets out exactly why they are taking this serious action, for only the second time in 100 years.

“It’s more than just standing outside the hospital and closing clinics, cancelling surgeries as we argue that we are worth the restoration of our pay. It is the fight of our lives. We want parity with other allied health professionals.”

Allied health professionals are physiotherapists, occupational therapists or speech and language therapists. Both allied health professionals and nurses and midwives hold degrees. Many nurses and midwives, Naomi writes, are specialists, advanced practitioners, can prescribe medications, hold masters and PhDs.

“Irish nurses and midwives are among the best in the world. We provide a 24/7 service 365 days of the year.”

We can’t disagree with that. They are being head-hunted to work all over the world. Some people have said that they are relatively well-paid in comparison to nurses in many other countries, including the UK.

That’s not the point though. They shouldn’t be paid less than allied professionals in Ireland. And as for the pay elsewhere, the conditions are totally different. In Ireland, the conditions are unsafe. Many nurses leave Ireland due to burnout and the terrible, stressful working conditions.

As Naomi writes: “We are still working in a dangerous work environment. We always worry that if something goes wrong, we will lose our registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland which allows us to work.

“My colleagues are tired of these conditions and we don’t want to be on strike. It’s a difficult place to be but if we do nothing, then we will never have enough staff and the conditions will just get worse and worse.”

We have a major nurse retention problem too. It’s not just about money.

On Tuesday night, remarkably, the Government issued a statement saying it was willing to engage in fresh talks on issues other than pay to try to resolve the nurses’ strike. It did so in lieu of talking directly to the INMO.

The INMO found this move to be cynical with General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ni Sheaghdha revealing that the Government had not communicated directly with the unions.

In the Dáil on Tuesday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described it as an “appalling and a pathetic way” to approach the dispute.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar then admitted that that direct contact should have been made with nursing unions regarding further talks at the Workplace Relations Commission to resolve their dispute, rather than via the media.

Nurses and midwives do a unique job; they take care of us at our weakest. They usher us into life as safely as possible and ease our passing out of it after fighting to delay it as long as possible.

They deserve parity with other allied professionals and a safer, less under-staffed working environment.

 

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