As nurses and midwives escalate strike action this week, one local nurse has issued an open letter to the government calling on them to rebuild the health service and improve conditions for all nurses and patients.
An open letter to an Taoiseach
I started my nursing journey 10 years ago and over the years I have grew both personally and professionally and I have come to realise a few things.
Over the last 10 years, I have noticed a decline in EVERYTHING in the world of nursing and within the Health Service. The environment in which we now find ourselves working in has been a long time coming. It started with minor cuts in a bid to save the government money in the down turn of the economy.
Over time more and more beds closed and staff started to emigrate. Corruption and greed led to monumental bail outs and not one person held accountable. We took a pay cut and increased our working day to 13hour shifts. Universal social charge (USC) was introduced supposedly for a short time. AGREED but no one could have predicted what was to follow.
A short time ago I contemplated leaving the profession. I suppose in a sense I lost heart. The very reason I became a nurse seemed so far away from the reality of working in a broken and dangerous Health Service. The feeling of guilt for not being able to deliver even basic nursing care. Compromising patient safety and dignity in corridors, apologising to families for their frail relatives on a trolley for hours on end with no word of a bed in sight.
One day my actual patient ratio was 1:24. I was apologising at handover at the end of my shift to my colleagues for not knowing half of these patients only they’re presenting complaint. I sat in my car that night before driving home completely spent wondering how a days work got to feel so bad???
The world got faster, people live longer now with chronic conditions and the needs of individuals have changed but our Health Service have stopped caring. We have not adapted to meet those needs. Our resources have dwindled to the point where WE HIDE AN EXTRA PILLOW if we find one. Our community resources are Skeletal. Beds have closed ALL OVER THE COUNTRY simply because THERE IS NO NURSES to staff them.
How can this Government not see the desperation of the Health Service. Of course there is a problem. Every patient in the system will tell you THERE IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM, accessing diagnostics has a waiting time, then when you get tests and investigations it’s more waiting. Not weeks, months and accessing treatment is horrendous. Just ask the Oncology patients who have to travel for treatment. It’s the journey that near kills you. It is to the point now where we CANNOT RETAIN nurses who graduate with an excellent degree. How shameful other countries recognise the quality of our nurses and welcome them to Foreign lands, treat them with respect and the recognition the profession deserves.
Another statistic, a figure, a PPS number all digits on paper when in fact behind every one of those numbers is a PERSON. Is it any wonder so many people of all ages suffer with their mental health when you are made to feel like ONLY A NUMBER in every area of your life. Like you don’t matter. you are not important and your life to this Government doesn’t mean a single thing. We have become a nation of procrastinators. Our country is not our own no more. Run by people that WE effectively put there.
When did we stop caring about each other? Common courtesy, politeness, manners and respect. When did those values disappear? Love thy neighbour. Why do we only come together in times of grief?? And the Irish so good at coming together in times of need, Community united when someone dies? But it ends and soon we are back behind closed doors.
Beneficence and non-maleficence are principles we should all live by, not just in nursing. You need to start taking care of the people of Ireland.
Do you even realise how embarrassed and ashamed this Country is of you right now… we thought you could lead better, in a better disposition than the last. I mean is that not what you would want ??? To serve this Country and do right by your people??? Are you really that far removed from reality living in such an upper class you cannot see the desperation of your people?
I understand you have other matters to consider like Brexit and the homeless which I am sure are a worrying concern! Trust me when I tell you if you start rebuilding a great health service instead of trying to patch over or ignore the cracks you will, in turn, rebuild our Country.
It’s truly heart-breaking that we have become this way however I feel a change is most definitely on the horizon. Who better than nurses and midwives to enact it. To take back control again so that future generations can feel proud to become a nurse. To want to join the profession without fear of moving away for work and better conditions.
I feel privileged to stand with every nurse and midwife in this Country to remind Mr. Varadkar, Mr Harris and Mr O Donoghue who put you in the positions you hold. They too can be replaced. No threats or sanctions are going to work because we are in the business of saving peoples lives. We understand the meaning of accountability. You Taoiseach only understand a serious lack of, which as a doctor is cause for concern.
We care for the sick, from conception until death. We are present. There is no greater job in the world. Every member of this Government has a family. Indeed Mr Harris you have just recently become a parent. None of you are invincible and will require a nurse over the course of your life regardless if it is private or public care you receive. It is still a nurse you will require. Please have some understanding that we are trying to salvage our Health Service and build it up again.
We need pay restoration to help keep our graduates here. To bring home those who have emigrated and to welcome nurses to our hospitals. We need to staff the wards appropriately. Open every bed that is closed. Improve our Community services and adapt to the ever growing needs of our population.
I beg you and your Government to LISTEN to the people of IRELAND because we are ALL talking now.
Every Nurse, Midwife, Patient, Relative and citizen of Ireland.