Broken: why everyday as a nurse in Ireland is now a living ‘nightmare’

Despite providing essential, often life-saving services within our health system, newly-qualified nurses in this country face low starting salaries and increasingly tough working-conditions.

Understandably, the Irish Nurses And Midwives Organisation is now desperately appealing to the government to improve pay, hours, staffing levels, and post graduate opportunities.

But while unions and politicians remain embattled, ordinary, hard-working nurses are struggling – sometimes desperately so.

Indeed, recently one nurse felt compelled to take to a Facebook page that offers support to those working in the industry.

In a powerfully penned post that has now garnered significant traction online, the unnamed mother makes her compelling argument for pay restoration – whereby the penalties inflicted on the public service sector by Troika-led austerity are eased or abolished.

The nurse has chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect her husband and children; here is an extract from her post

I, like thousands of others, went to college for four years and got my nursing degree.

I got married to a tradesman. We got a mortgage for a three bedroomed house and we had two children. 

We could pay for our mortgage. We had one family holiday a year. We had two cars. Neither of us had new cars but the cars we bought got us to our jobs and back home again. 

We lived a normal life. Nothing fancy. But we got by. Then the banks and the government decided to gamble with our lives. My husband lost his job in the crash. 

And I was forced to take on all the bills including the mortgage. 

It was tough but I did OK. We sold my husband’s car for €3,000. We tightened our belts. 

Then the government decided to punish us even further for their mistakes. They introduced USC. Again we tightened our belts even further. My husband was getting the odd job here and there but his weekly wage was gone. We were struggling to get by.

Gone was the yearly holiday. Gone were the day trips away. Gone was the monthly night out for the two of us.

As if that wasn't enough punishment the government decided that because I'm a nurse, I must pay PRD (Pension Related Deduction). A tax that was only to be introduced as an emergency tax but for some reason we are still being forced to pay. 

We were already at rock bottom… but that destroyed us. Santa suddenly hadn't got a lot of money. Toys were second hand from charity shops. Food was bargain basement end of life food. And our mortgage? I just can't pay it any longer.

I try to pay some money off it but the money that I used to pay for the mortgage is now going to pay USC and PRD. Anything I have left is going on paying for heating, electricity and the kids’ food and schooling. Our heating is one fire in the sitting room and hot water bottles. 

And now the banks have decided that they're going to take our home. They're going to leave us homeless. I've tried to talk to them but they don't want to know. 

I've tried to come to a deal with them to pay off as much as I can but it isn't good enough. They are completely heartless. They want the house. 

We are now going through the repossession courts desperately trying to save the last thing we have left, our little family home. 

I'm used to being verbally and physically abused in my job. I'll never get used to the ward being constantly short staffed and always overcrowded though. Every working day is a nightmare but it's not as tough as constantly going hungry everyday and coming home to see my husband a shadow of his former self.

We were once just a normal couple going about our simple lives and now we are a very broken couple who are desperately trying to save the last thing we have left, the roof over our heads. 

And has our government even tried to help us save our home? Not at all. In fact they haven't even tried to stop the courts from taking our home at all and yet they are responsible for our home being taken from us.  

Have they tried to restore our pay? No. Instead they are trying to lay the blame at our feet that if they restore any of our pay that we will put this country into another recession. How dare they.

They talk about recovery non stop. What recovery? The only ones I see in recovery are the banks and all the self serving politicians! 

Not one of them have tried to help us and yet they're happy enough to hand themselves pay rises of €5,000 each. They make me want to vomit. None of them care. Not one of them. 

I'm a nurse. I'm no longer a proud nurse. I'm well and truly broken and I don't think I'll ever live a normal life again. 

I'm in tears writing this. My heart is just broken. We can't take much more. 

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