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‘No surprise’ that newly graduated nurses are leaving in droves – O’Reilly

2 August, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Responding to an open letter published in the media today in which a nurse pleads with the HSE to be paid fairly for her work, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly said that it was no surprise that almost nine out of 10 trainee nurses planned to leave when they qualified, citing an NUIG survey where career opportunities, working conditions and lifestyle were cited as the top three factors by some 88 per cent of over 2,000 students surveyed.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“Last year, a NUI Galway survey of 2,000 students across six medical schools found almost nine out of 10 trainee nurses, and those who had come through the process, planned to leave or were contemplating leaving Ireland when they qualified. Career opportunities, working conditions and lifestyle were cited as the top three factors by some 88 per cent of over 2,000 students surveyed. 

“Only last week, revelations in respect of the HSE recruitment campaign highlighted the famine of nurses coming to work in the Irish health system. This is indicative of a health system in crisis which, without a plan for a meaningful reform, will continue to haemorrhage staff and will fail to attract the talent that the services and the patients need.

“We are experiencing unprecedented difficulties in encouraging nurses and other health workers to work in our public health service. What we are now seeing, and which Sinn Féin has been saying for a long time, is that the greatest barrier to retaining and recruiting nurses in our public health system is the resulting toxic work environment.  Nurses need to be able to trust that their work environment will get better and stay better. Any ad hoc, half-hearted recruitment efforts simply will not cut it.  

“Any effort to retain existing and recruit further nursing staff will only succeed if a believable financial commitment is made by government to expand health workforce numbers to the level needed to radically reshape the working environment in our health system. The letter published in today’s media is a first-hand account of the burdens and trials that nurses and frontline staff are facing every day and which, to this point, has not been resolved in a meaningful way.

“The government need to address the root causes of their failure to recruit and this lies in the workplace.  We see health Unions often threatening industrial action not about pay or job security but about the failure by the HSE to deliver on a commitment to its workforce. And this letter demonstrates that this is the rule not the exception in the HSE. Our healthcare workers are the envy of the world and they deserve a decent place to work in.” 

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