Why don’t we pay nursing staff what they deserve?

GUERNSEY is fortunate to have attracted many nationalities onto the nursing staff in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. Having recently spent time in the PEH I had the good fortune to have a Belgian born specialist, a Hercule Poirot-type expert on internal organs. Nurses from far-flung countries as well as Europeans have found their way to our shores. So I saw at first hand the long hours that PEH nurses work, whether on day or night shifts. The pleasantness, kindness, humour of the nurses and non-medical staff towards their patients was unwavering. The burden of responsibility for care and nursing of the residents of the Bailiwick is carried on the shoulders of surgeons, specialists, doctors, special unit staff, nurses, trainees, ‘old Uncle Tom Cobley and all’.

Being fit, strong and fleet of foot was vital for the survival of humans as they evolved, despite being among the weakest creatures on the planet.

Through centuries humans have developed skills, weapons and strategies to assist them to survive, individually or en masse, as with pandemics. Uppermost now is the realisation that sanitation and medical care is vital.

If unwell, possibly injured, mentally or physically impaired I suppose you are likely to prefer a medically trained person to tend you. Someone with training in a particular field of medicine to ease your pain; to deliver your baby, tend an injury, cut away cancer, remove the offending organ, take out a tooth, put a splint on the broken limb; the list is endless. Although a relative or friend’s presence is comforting, it is probably more reassuring if someone medically trained – doctor, specialist, nurse or therapist – is around to diagnose and care for you, whether in a nursing home or hospital.

I suppose that with specialised training and experience, surgeons and specialists will top the list where salaries are concerned. It must have a calling for nurses to train and qualify, because no matter what status they hold, they seem to be well down the pecking order. These lassies and lads continue to care, be professional, despite not being paid what they are worth. A grievance well known by all Guernsey residents, including members of the Guernsey States of Deliberation.

Why don’t we pay nursing staff what they deserve?

I wonder if any of the States members, who voted the parsimonious increase in wages for the nurses in the hospital and care homes, will take up my challenge – spend a day or night shift at the PEH, assisting the nursing staff, emptying bedpans, dealing with injections, vomiting or incontinent patients, assisting in changing a dressing on a severely injured limb, or even making up a bed? In fact take on any ‘run of the mill’ day job, besides being ready to attend when a patient presses their buzzer. Of course these members would have to be vetted first.

Sincere apologises to any employees of other States departments, offices or services on the island who feel that I appear to undervalue their important role. That is not my intention. I am just an elderly Guernsey native who has been very grateful for the care I received, not on only on this last occasion. I am saddened and very cross when an injustice stares me in the face.

Grateful thanks and good wishes to the staff of the PEH, specialists, nurses, chefs, cleaners and floor moppers. Also to all who maintain the essential services on the island. Fingers crossed for better days.


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