[Letter to Independent >] Sir — In paying tribute to a dedicated surgeon (Sunday Independent, January 29, 2012), Emer O’Kelly sadly did a great disservice to hospital nurses.
Ms O’Kelly seems upset that nurses hold third-level degrees. Well, she may faint when she learns that not only did her carers go to college but many went on to get masters’ degrees and diplomas in cancer care, paediatrics, palliative care, and indeed virtually every medical speciality. The notion that staff nurses “earn €44,000″ is nonsense, that is the top of the scale and many earn below the average industrial wage.
It is true that nurses are drowning in paperwork; however, in my experience, they still manage to provide high quality care with great patience and compassion. Any doctor will testify that nurses provide an emotional support that we usually cannot. Nurses at the Mater Private are busy too, and yet they keep families updated, counsel anxious patients, and of course comfort the dying and the grieving. Much more than “pulses and pills”.
Is it any wonder then that many former nursing tasks are now performed by healthcare assistants — and indeed why not? Healthcare assistants, ward clerks, cleaners, porters, caterers and many others play vital roles in patient care in both public and private hospitals. Every member of staff works to ensure patients are welcomed and cared for.
Please continue to praise good doctors, but not at the expense of our hard-working colleagues.
Dr Conor Malone, Donnybrook