World of Irish Nursing & Midwifery May 2019

Focus 27

Limerick in 1988 to complete her mid- wifery training. When Ann started working as a the- atre nurse in 1995 there were many issues with on-call and rostering. Significant changes were taking place and Ann felt that nurses should have a voice in negotiations. She became the theatre rep in 1995/96 and progressed to getting involved with her branch. Ann likes having the information necessary to organise herself and her fellow workers, stating: “The health service is changing dramatically, and nurses and midwives must have a voice in that. Unfortunately, the liti- gious nature of life nowadays means that you need the insurance of being a member of a union. There are also great educational opportunities Regional Hospital, Ennis in 1985. Marie became active with the INMO as a student. When she started work- ing in Ennis she was only temporary like many of her colleagues, meaning they could be called in at any time and sent home once their work was done, often not getting paid for a full shift. About this experience, Marie said: “Temporary nurses had no rights what- soever so I initially became a rep with the INMO to highlight our plight. How- ever, overcrowding was also off the scale back then. There were beds up the corridors and in wards all over our hos- pital. We were concerned about health and safety. Eventually we managed to get rid of the policy of moving extra beds up the wards, but there were very few staff on night duty. We sought an and he found it difficult to get started here so he went to England to study. He spent 11 years working there before returning to Ireland in 2006. Speaking about his job, Sean said: “The attraction is that you get to talk to people, help them out, learn about them. It’s that interaction and the human touch. You learn from your patients and they learn from you. It keeps the job interesting.” Sean became active with the INMO to learn what his rights and entitle- ments were. He realised that with union support, he could deliver infor- mation to colleagues and update them on their rights. He became a workplace rep and progressed from there. For Sean, the main reason for being

through the union. There is power in a collective. It gives us a greater voice to campaign for our rights and for safe care for our patients.” Staff nurses are the biggest collec- tive in the health service and, for Ann, it is important that they are represented. Working in the most overcrowded hos- pital in the country, Ann feels she is the voice on the Executive Council for the staff nurse but also for UHL, where safe staffing is a major issue. “It is really important for nurses and midwives to be aware of industrial relations mech- anisms when it comes to campaigning for safe staffing. The issues encountered on the ground by nurses and midwives working in our overcrowded acute hos- pitals are huge and varied. Our voice needs to be heard.” About the proposed new deal, Marie said: “My aim is to see the nursing profession valued and paid accord- ingly. The proposed deal could see this happen. If it is implemented, and we get those terms that have been negoti- ated for us, we could see a fully funded workforce with safe staffing for nurses and midwives. This would allow us to provide optimum care for patients while working in a safe environment.” in a union is to keep abreast of ongo- ing changes in the health service. As a member of the Executive Council, his priority is to break down barriers within nursing andmidwifery. His method is to identify what the barriers are, find solu- tions to them and teach members how to overcome the problem. “As an Executive member you are representing your colleagues. The most important thing is that we are there for the members on the ground. There are more and more requirements for service to be provided, but we are expected to do more with less and less. Often information that is dissem- inated down from the employer to the employee is not 100% by the policy/ agreement.” external review and as a result we got a third nurse on night duty. This made a huge difference. I was also involved in campaigning to have interns paid which was ultimately successful.” Marie believes every nurse and mid- wife should join a union for indemnity and an opportunity for professional development.

In secondary school Marie was involved with a voluntary group that brought disabled children on holidays. This gave her a love of caring for others. Later Marie trained at University Hospital Limerick and did her midwifery train- ing at St Munchin’s College, Limerick. She went on to work in orthopaedics in Cork before moving to Mid-Western Marie O’Brien CNM1, Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis

ANN worked as an attendant in a ger- iatric hospital in secondary school. There were no nurses in her family but watching the nurses at work attracted her to the profession. Ann began train- ing at University Hospital Limerick in 1984, aged 17. She briefly worked in the Mater Private and went back to Ann Noonan Staff nurse, surgical day theatre, University Hospital Limerick

Sean O’Shaughnessy Surgical day ward University Hospital Galway Sean’s interest in nursing started at a young age as he lived with all of his four grandparents. There was a caring environment at home and, although he never fully understood what attracted him to nursing, he feels this had an impact. His career guidance teacher was surprised by his choice

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