Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 08 July, 1993

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Nurses Organisation Survey.

2. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Health if he has received a recent survey undertaken by the Irish Nurses Organisation; and if so, if he will give the steps, if any, he proposes to take to deal with the context of the survey.

Mr. Howlin: The survey to which the Deputy is referring, The Experience of Stress Amongst Irish Nurses, was commissioned by the Irish Nurses' Organisation and was published on Wednesday, 30 June 1993. My Department received a summary of the report on the date of publication. Copies of the full report [1825] were ordered from the Irish Nurses Organisation and were received in the last couple of days. The contents of this report will be considered by my Department, as is the case with all reports pertaining to the health service, and it would be inappropriate for me to offer any comment either on the survey or its context until that process has been completed.

Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny): In view of the fact that the Minister is not prepared to comment, any comment I would make would be superfluous. It is stated that the survey confirms that nursing is in a state of crisis. In view of this, would the Minister not accept that he should deal with the matter as a matter of urgency? It is mentioned in the survey that nurses have to work a 12-hour shift which in this day and age is beyond reason and that 46 per cent of nurses surveyed said that they had been assaulted.

Mr. Howlin: The report is to be examined carefully. It is clear that nursing is a stressful profession. Indeed, most professions nowadays, not least our own, are becoming more stressful.

Ms McManus: Is the Minister feeling the heat?

Mr. Howlin: We have to consider ways and means by which this can be ameliorated. I am also concerned about the reported cases of violence against nurses. This is unacceptable and we have to consider ways and means by which this problem can be addressed. I am reluctant to comment on the report until a complete analysis is carried out. The question of work practices can be looked at. Once I have had an opportunity to consider the report in some detail we may have discussions to see what changes in work practices might be appropriate.

Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny): Does the Minister have any idea when a report will be presented to deal with these difficulties?

[1826] Mr. Howlin: I am not promising to present a report. I will consider the report I received during the past few days. It is noteworthy that the survey was commissioned by the Irish Nurses Organisation and highlights a number of issues which need to be addressed. I will be happy to address these. When the analysis has been completed perhaps solutions will offer themselves and we can discuss these with the Irish Nurses Organisation directly. It will take some time to complete the analysis.