INMO begins six days of industrial action
Yesterday (Wednesday) saw the first of six days of industrial action as 37,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation took to the picket lines in a dispute over wage increases and staffing shortages, which they say affect patient care across the country.
Minister for Health Simon Harris described the action as “extraordinarily regrettable” but local members of INMO called on the government to take action in order to make it more appealing for Irish nurses to stay and work here.
Those on the picket line outside Roscommon University Hospital yesterday said they have received widespread support from the public as well as local businesses and consultants and other staff within the hospital. In order to maintain patient care, the picket was carefully orchestrated and staff came and went throughout the day.
Roscommon nurse and INMO spokesperson, Lorraine Young, said working conditions have deteriorated since she first started working in the health service 22 years ago.
“You’re coming into work to do a twelve hour shift but it’s not a twelve hour shift it’s fourteen really and your day is never really done. It’s the burnout; everyone has it now because you just can’t keep going. You see the patients are suffering, they’re here longer, they are getting sicker. The skill mix isn’t right on the wards, you have a lot of agency nurses coming in and the younger nurses get their education here and off they go out of the country because there’s nothing to appeal to them,” she said.
Lorraine said that it was a matter of respect and fairness for those on the picket line.
“As INMO members, financially of course you want to be equal to other disciplines in the hospital but for us it’s about patient safety and it’s about a bit of respect. You’ve got a degree but it’s not recognised; continuing education is not recognised.
“So you come in and you do the hardest job and you get the least recognition. You’re on the frontline to deal with the public as well and of course families are frustrated, care isn’t given the way you’d like it to be given because they’re just aren’t enough people on the ground.
“We just can’t do everyone else’s job; we just feel sometimes that our tasks have been increased because we’re taking on everyone else’s workload but nobody’s taking on any of ours. There are not enough HCAs (Health Care Assistants), there are not enough other disciplines in the hospital to take on these roles so everything is left for the nurse.
“We have loyalty to our patients and it’s in you to continuously give. You can’t walk off. ‘I can’t go for my lunch because he needs pain relief’. We spend time worrying about people’s intakes on wards – do they need fluids or IV fluids – but the nurses themselves don’t know when they last went to the toilet or had a break”.
Staff outside RUH on Wednesday were adamant that this action is about patient care and also about respect for the work those on the frontline do.
Lorraine said it was time to act in order to convince Irish nurses to use their training in Ireland and she had this message for Minister for Health Simon Harris:
“Make something appealing to keep our good Irish nurses here. They get their education here and the first thing they do is book a flight out of the country. They’ve a better quality of life, they are recognised as professionals in other countries. We’ve all seen the global campaign: Bring our nurses home”.