Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Say thanks today to our nurses

'Many patients send thank-you cards for staff who looked after them to show their appreciation'
'Many patients send thank-you cards for staff who looked after them to show their appreciation'

Our local hospitals have been the subject of much negative publicity in recent months for poor standards of care.

It is important that such cases are brought to public attention and that those responsible are held accountable.

The mechanisms to deal with that are already in place.

Each year, hundreds of doctors and nurses face disciplinary hearings.

However, the other causes of poor standards should not be overlooked.

Underfunded and overstretched services, due to austerity measures implemented by politicians for ideological reasons, are less likely to deliver the highest standards of care.

Moreover, while the focus has been on the negative experiences of some patients, we rarely hear the other side of the story: patients with positive experiences.

Many patients send thank-you cards for staff who looked after them to show their appreciation.

Today – May 12 – is annual Nurses' Day, the day to mark the contribution of thousands of nurses who continue to care with compassion and competence.

While the majority of us sleep soundly in bed at night, many nurses stay awake to look after the ill, the infirm and the dying.

On many occasions, in short-staffed and busy hospitals, nurses go hungry and thirsty, without being able to take a break, or even to go to the toilet.

Often they do unpaid overtime, when they have to stay late to finish paperwork.

And sometimes their reward for all this is to be punched, spat on or even have urine thrown around them by an aggressive patient.

The Government, in its turn, rewards nurses by making them pay more towards their pensions, work longer hours and get less when they retire.

Like other public sector workers, the Government has also frozen their wages.

But, in spite of being largely undervalued by politicians who claimed expenses they did not incur, nurses continue to provide care and comfort for their patients.

Happy Nurses' Day.

  • Mohammed Samaana is a freelance journalist based in Belfast

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