Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Part-time Direct Rule Health Minister is failing nurses

28 February, 2006


Sinn Féin health spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA, has said that the presence of a part-time direct rule health minister is failing nurses in the Six Counties. He made his comments following the release of a new survey published today by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which revealed that almost half (47%) of nurses in the North reported that they have been harassed or assaulted by patients or their relatives in the last 12 months.

Over a quarter (27%) of the survey‚s respondents said they had been physically attacked at work and over two-thirds (68%) had suffered from verbal abuse. Nearly a quarter of those interviewed also felt that they had been bullied or harassed at work in the past twelve months.

The Upper Bann assembly member said, "The RCN figures are supported by two British government reports. One shows that in the period from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005, there were 1,032 officially recorded verbal attacks and 2,305 recorded physical attacks on nursing and midwifery staff. The second report, released yesterday (Monday 27th February), revealed that over 1200 staff employed as nurses, midwives and health visitors had left those professions in the past year."

O'Dowd added, "These figures also show that more than half of those who left were aged under 39, so we are talking about substantial numbers of relatively young staff, many of whom are women, leaving the nursing professions.

"These problems are clearly inter-related and need to be tackled urgently if we are going to stop more nurses leaving the profession.

"All right-thinking people would agree that the nursing professions are the front-line of the health service. Indeed the health service is dependent upon their dedication and expertise.

"However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current part-time direct rule health minister is completely failing nurses. Shaun Woodward seems to be more interested and focussed on driving forward a pro-privatisation agenda for the health service than he is in properly rewarding those who work and provide patient care.

O'Dowd continued, "I have no doubt many people in the Six Counties will see through the hypocrisy of Woodward's own double standards. On one hand, people see Shaun Woodward, along with his colleague Gordon Brown, insisting that nurses should only receive a derisory 2 per cent pay increase this year. On the other hand, they can also see the same Shaun Woodward pocket over £15 million pounds from a single property deal in Oxfordshire in Britain." ENDS

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