Pay hike for nurses won’t im­prove our health ser­vice

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT -

ANY­ONE who has suf­fered through our rav­aged health ser­vice, knows that no money in the world could re­pay the tire­less ded­i­ca­tion of our good nurses. But for all that, our uni­ver­sal good­will can­not stretch to sup­port­ing the pro­pa­ganda that has been churned out in re­cent days, usu­ally by nurses them­selves, press­ing for a 12pc salary in­crease ahead of their threat­ened strike on Jan­uary 30. Their sug­ges­tion that chronic prob­lems in the health ser­vice will be re­solved if nurses get a raise is disin­gen­u­ous at best. The re­verse is the more likely out­come. Their ar­gu­ment about re­cruit­ment short­ages in nurs­ing be­ing linked to pay is­sues ig­nores the wealth of OECD data show­ing that nurses’ pay is com­par­a­tively high here, on a par with Aus­tralia and higher than New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Is it not im­pos­si­ble that the Dick­en­sian con­di­tions of our hos­pi­tals and other prob­lems in the health ser­vice are the real turn-off for Ir­ish nurses, rather than money? While a salary hike may im­prove re­cruit­ment and re­duce our re­liance on ex­pen­sive agency staff, its ef­fect will also be to di­vert re­sources from ser­vices by fur­ther bal­loon­ing the HSE’s salary bill. Ir­ish tax­pay­ers in­vest more in their health ser­vice than most Euro­peans but in terms of hos­pi­tal ac­com­mo­da­tion we fare among the worst. Un­less a com­pro­mise is reached be­tween nurses and Gov­ern­ment, the net ef­fect of hav­ing among the best paid nurses in the world will not be, as the nurses’ union claims, an eas­ing of over­crowd­ing and bed short­ages, but even more wretched con­di­tions.

A CA­REER guid­ance re­view by the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Au­thor­ity shows that moth­ers have far greater in­flu­ence than fa­thers on stu­dents’ ca­reer op­tions, de­spite their work­place knowl­edge of­ten be­ing out of date. Ah the Ir­ish mammy; tra­di­tional jobs may be re­placed by com­put­ers but her pow­er­ful role will never reach its sell-by date.

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