‘Australia is full of Irish nurses. They are homesick. I must be mad to come back’
Nurses at St James’s Hospital in Dublin protest pay and conditions in 24-hour stoppage
Striking nurses (clockwise from left): Siobhán Ní Chinnéide, Fiona Pardy, Amy Wilkinson, Tracy McNulty
Striking nurses from St James’s Hospital congregated outside the entrance to the new children’s hospital to demand higher wages.
Most believe St James’s, which is one of the busiest hospitals in the country, is becoming unsafe because of staffing levels.
Fiona Pardy, emergency department nurse:
“We are currently working most days with eight nurses on the floor when there should be 14. There are just no nurses. We can’t fill the vacancies. It’s very unsafe for patient care.
“It’s also very stressful for nurses in that situation not getting breaks.
“There are night shifts when we have junior staff that are not qualified to take ambulances or triage patients. I have a husband and four children.
“If I could, I would be gone out of Ireland. My husband is also public sector. We are just about making our bills.”
Amy Wilkinson, staff nurse:
“I worked six years in Australia. The hourly rate there per hour is $AUS48 (€30) against €23 per hour here. I must be mad to come back to these working conditions.
“The patient/nurse ratio over there is one to four. Here it is one to ten. It’s ridiculous. The wards are stretched beyond belief. Enough is enough.
“I came home for family and I’m back a year. Australia is full of Irish nurses. They are homesick. They miss their families. They are missing weddings, christenings and major family events, but they can’t come home.
“What’s there to come home for?”
Tracy McNulty, staff nurse:
“We are educating some of the most highly-trained nurses in the whole world to degree level which isn’t in every country. We are putting all this money into educating nurses, but we are not putting any money into retaining nurses.
“That has a knock on effect for staffing levels, burnout and patient safety. We deserve to be paid more. Our backs are broken. We are here 365 days a year.
“Nurses shouldn’t have to go on strike to feel respected and appreciated. We work in the emergency department. I have seen nurses doing the job of three people. They want to give the best care to patients which is impossible under those circumstances.
“The Government keep putting it back on ourselves that we are just looking for more money. It’s not just for money. It is for an improved working environment and patient care.”
Siobhán Ní Chinnéide, acute surgical ward:
“We are working under high stress all the time. We are short staffed. Nurses are out sick. We have three nurses out on long-term sickness at the moment because of the high pressure we are being put under.
“They are building the most expensive hospital in the world on this campus, but they will have no nurses to staff it.
“And now they are spending a half a million to find out why they are spending so much money on it.