A TD earns three times more than a staff nurse – yet Fine Gael thinks they can lecture nurses about pay restraint.
TDs got a pay increase of nearly €1,000 in October to bring their pay level up to €94,535. But a staff nurse gets €31,110 – which means that three nurses are needed to make up the pay of one TD.
Nurses face huge stress on a daily basis due to the overcrowding in our hospitals. Every day thousands of patients lie on trolleys waiting for medical attention. Last year a staggering 108,227 patients went without proper beds after entering a hospital.
When patients eventually get a bed in overcrowded wards, there are not enough nurses to care for them. The plain reality is that existing pay levels are not enough to cover rents, childcare and even the high transport costs.
This is why most students nurses want to leave Ireland as soon as they are trained.
In order to cope with the shortage, the HSE often hire staff from recruitment agencies. But these agencies pay 20% the HSE rate.
This vicious cycle means that the HSE are forking out over €100 million a year on agency staff – because they cannot hire nurses on the pay they are offering.
The obvious answer is that the HSE should pay nurses properly. That means that more nurses could be employed directly As a result, there could be better patient care. And the state could even save itself some money by not having to hire agency staff.
Makes sense? Of course, it does but we are dealing with Fine Gael who place no value on public sector work.
To change all this, we need to give full support to nurses who are being forced to engage in a campaign of 24 hour strikes.