A Nurse’s World
Sadly the Orwellian images painted by the author are real
The ‘A Nurses World’ series which began in The Irish Times on Saturday and continues in the Health + Family section today provides a unique insight into the frontline of Irish healthcare. A warts and all description of a nurse’s working life, it helps readers understand the sometimes bizarre dysfunctionality of the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In today’s piece we read about the kind of behaviour that happens when the Minister for Health visits a hospital: “Minister is coming...HSE apparatchiks will appear, and the Minister will be ushered down freshly-painted corridors that are not jammed with trolleys, chairs, wheelchairs, beds.”
Sadly the Orwellian images painted by the author are real. It is true that new trees and shrubs are sometimes planted in advance in hospital grounds along the route of “the big visit”. What is equally true is that on at least one occasion involving a previous Minister, the same foliage was dug up the following day.
Why HSE managers would want to steer a Minister for Health away from the sights, sounds and odours of sick patients defies logic. Surely exposing the person who must argue for more resources at Cabinet to the gritty reality of acute hospital care is the honest thing to do?
Regrettably we have instead a policy of divide and conquer with management pitted against those providing direct patient care. And if we wonder why Irish healthcare graduates cannot leave the country quickly enough, the answer lies in the words of ‘A Nurses World’: “But when disinformation becomes the norm, when the farce acquires a grotesque reality as well as a vocabulary of its own, when 80-year-olds are left overnight on trolleys like human detritus, when a nurse has one thermometer for a ward of 30, something gets broken inside that worker.”
Broken toilet seats and damaged patient hoists remain unfixed, yet nurses have no choice but to move patients too sick to move themselves. Who cares for the carers? The Minister is coming and HSE managers prosper, but who will stop the rot and change things for the better?