Open Letter to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD

This open letter to Simon Harris was posted on FaceBook on Sunday 15th April by Tara Nic Chormaic, a trainee nurse. Her plea is heartfelt and echos the feelings of many thousands of nurses in Ireland today. Please read and support her.

Dear Mr Harris,

I don’t know of any other undergraduate courses in Ireland outside health-sciences where one day your bringing life into the world, and the next holding the hands of someone leaving this world. Comforting families who’ve been totally broken apart. Nurses are glue. We hold teams, families, friends and patients together. We try and stop people from taking their own lives, instill hope. Many of us can’t do it for ourselves.

Why are student nurses going home crying at the end of a week of 39hours unpaid placements and a further 36 hours of their normal jobs to keep a roof over their heads because student grants are just a drop in the ocean to helping with student debt.

Student Nurses although officially “not counted in the numbers” are being counted in the numbers on wards. To the point without students the wards would collapse at times.

You keep talking about retaining nurses. If we don’t get treated well in training why would we think it’ll be any better when we qualify. We see the stress qualified nurses are under to feed their families and keep a roof over their head as it is. Nurses sleeping in their cars. New graduates not able to afford their rent and mortgages or even dream of ever getting a mortgage without moving away.

Despite this we go in day after day and care for everyone else when we can’t care for ourselves.

This week I had €6.49 to spend on food. More than normal. To keep me going for a week.

Not sure if you know but Nursing is a physically and mentally demanding job. You need energy. Energy comes from food and sleep. Two basics that I just don’t get because I choose in the face of adversity to better myself. To do what I’ve always wanted to do and become a nurse. To help others.

I’m a Children’s and General Nursing student. Everyone tells me I’m incredibly lucky to be in such a prestigious course and how it’ll stand to me and be worth it in the end. €28768 a year as a staff nurse. €2791 I earn extra a year for having dual qualification.

Four and a half years of studying and doing the same workloads as General Nursing students at the same time as covering the extra work, study, assignments, exams, placements and stress of doing the Children’s Nursing aspect for €2791 extra a year when I qualify. That doesn’t even cover one years student contribution fee. That doesn’t touch the student loans I’ve had to take out because of the cost of living (and it’s far from a fancy life I live).

Student and Staff Nurses are burnout. The conditions and pay we are working under are beyond shocking.

The job we do is worth so much more. We are worth so much more. When will you see that?


 See her original post on FB below



About Frank McGrath

An audiologist and electronics engineer Frank really is a “sound man”. Singing, drama, books, music, science, technology, art, politics, life, chat and craic are passions. Drama and folk singing engage his few spare hours outside of family duties. Frank has many acting and directing awards but writes a little too when time permits and the passion is up. View all posts by Frank McGrath →