Nursing rights groups called on the government to improve their working conditions and workplace environments at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning.
Timed to coincide with International Nurses Day, representatives from the Taiwan Association for Nurses’ Rights (TANR) and the Nurses’ Union said that there was no cause for celebration, with work overload and governmental policies undermined the profession.
Holding giant characters to spell out messages including: “When nurses are exhausted, can the patients be safe?” and “I want to have lunch during work, I need to drink water and go to the toilet,” nurses called for improved pay and conditions.
“We [nurses] took it to the streets last year, calling on the government to give us a helping hand,” TANR chairwoman Lu Tzu-yen (盧孳豔) said. “Despite the government’s promise to help, everything remains the same.”
The Department of Health had agreed to allocate funds to increase salaries, however: “We don’t know what happened, but the money didn’t go into nurses’ pockets at the end.”
The group’s leader also said that the government had promised to decrease the per-person workload for nurses, “but the rule only applies to the day shift, not the evening and night shifts — so for those working evening or night shifts, each nurse still needs to take care of at least 10 patients.”
A nurse who took part in the news conference, but wished to remain anonymous, urged the public to pay more attention to their working conditions.
“Before we can take good care of patients, we need to take good care of ourselves, and in addition, we also need to take care of our families,” she said. “We don’t have enough time to eat or go to the toilet at work and we don’t have time to take days off either — we’re always worried about our patients, but does anyone worry about us?”