Limerick nurse honoured for work on behalf of her colleagues

UHL senior staff nurse Ann Noonan

A SENIOR theatre nurse at University Hospital Limerick was honoured for her exceptional contribution to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) at its annual delegate’s conference in Killarney last Friday.

Ann Noonan, who is also an INMO representative at the Limerick Hospital, was presented with the Gobnait O’Connell award for her advocacy and support of her fellow nursing professionals.

Speaking at the conference, Ms Noonan said that there is up to a 30 per cent staffing deficit on the wards at University Hospital Limerick.

She has grown used to seeing colleagues struggling to get through days during which they are expected to do not just their own work but some of the work of the many staff who are not there.

“What that means in practical terms is that you go to work each day but you can’t do the job you trained to do because you are trying to do somebody else’s as well.

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Ms Noonan, who has worked as a nurse for 39 years, said when there is such an extreme level of pressure nurses can end up “avoiding eye contact with a patient in case they ask you something” because they are so busy.

She said it was hardly surprising that highly trained nurses who cannot perform to the standard they want are tempted by the “far away hills” and are leaving for hospitals abroad.

She told delegates that while she doesn’t work in the emergency department, she knows her colleagues there are constantly under ferocious pressure.

This has been exacerbated by the legacy of Covid, which left many patients without timely care.

The impact on more advanced cancers is now being seen.

She said there are times the emergency department in Limerick resembles a war zone.

She called for safe staffing to be rolled out, including not just more nurses on a shift but the right mix of skills to optimise care for patients.

INMO President Karen McGowan said the presentation of awards at the annual conference was “an amazing opportunity to recognise some of the members who go above and beyond year in and year out.

“The competition for these prizes is always tough because we see so many members looking to nominate their colleagues and teammates and ensure they get the recognition they deserve.

“It’s so inspiring every year to see nurses and midwives striving to get the most out of themselves and their professions, and ensuring the best possible outcomes for their colleagues, their students and their patients,” Ms McGowan added.