The attack by Taoiseach Leo Varadker on hospital staff was totally unacceptable! Staff working hard in hospitals have been under-resourced and overworked for years. Those Staff working in hospitals work incredibly tough shifts at Christmas, New Years and at pivotal times throughout the year to ensure the highest standard of care for patients. Many staff members have worked numerous Christmas, New Years and other holidays forgoing moments with family and friends in order to ensure those patients receive the highest level of care. 

However, the level of dedication given by staff working in hospitals is not being matched by the Fine Gael and Independent Alliance government. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Association are currently planning to ballot staff for potential strike action given the dangerous and record levels of overcrowding and the shortages of staff around the country. The INMO said: ‘There are 2,600 fewer nurses working in the Irish public health service today than in 2007, with a fall of 227 staff nurses between December 2017 and September 2018 alone’.

It is no secret the aim of the current government is to privatise the health system and move things towards an American style, disastrous, privatised healthcare system. Insight into this strategy can be drawn from the use of agencies to hire staff. The INMO highlighted in their statement: The health service now pays recruitment agencies a €10,000 bounty for every nurse or midwife they find to hire‘. This must be resisted and fought at all costs. Citizens of this country pay tax to fund the healthcare system, yet are seeing the negative impacts of defunding, mismanagement of the HSE and the pressures created by a two tier health system. This week a report released by TASC highlighted the vast inequalities within the current two tier health system and the negative impact on citizens as a direct result. 

It is vital for the future of public healthcare this attack by Leo Varadkar not go unchallenged. Should nurses and midwives vote for strike action, they should be supported by all progressive thinking people. A public not for profit healthcare system is the only way to deliver a fair and just health care system. Anything to the contrary will result in the continuation of overcrowding, overworked staff and friends and family negatively suffering as a consequence.