Pay and conditions exacerbating Mental Health nurse shortage – Buckley
Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has called on the government to introduce measures to end pay inequality and improve staff retention of nurses. Teachta Buckley was making his comments as part of a debate on Nurses pay and conditions secured by Sinn Féin in the Dáil today.
Deputy Buckley said;
“Nurses work very hard for their pay. They deserve our respect and that respect is best shown by a dedication to providing them with the best conditions in terms of their rights as workers and also the system they have to work in.
“Nurses have been let down badly by successive governments who sought to exploit their image as a vocation, as paragons of virtue in order to cut corners.
“They have been let down in their pay, as trainees and newly register nurses especially, and they have been let down by the tolerance of governments of a healthcare system in disarray which provides a chaotic, stressful and often unsafe environment for nurses.
“The priority for any employer should be the safety of its workers but nurses are expected to work long hours in the mess that is our health service. Straining them mentally, physically and putting them at risk all too often.
“Pay is not the panacea to this problem but it is a start. It is the first step in how we show nurses that we value them as workers who play a vital role in our society.
“500 hundred vacancies exist right now in our Mental Health Services. We are short 500 nurses from the ideal, we are short 500 nurses from current standards which fall short of the recommendations of Vision for Change, a document more than a decade old.
“This makes every nurse’s job harder and makes their workplace less safe for them and their clients.
“The other options are just so much better to them. Abroad, they take on better pay, conditions and cost of living in health care systems which treat them as workers of value, not saints to be abused. Systems which are on the cutting edge of care, publically funded and fit for purpose.
“We need our nurses. It is clear they don’t need us. It is time we acted to address that imbalance. We always are told by the right that high wages of CEO’s at public and private level are necessary to get the best people. Our nurses are the best people and we need their pay to reflect that.”