14 November 2018
Ireland World News

‘I Fell Asleep at the Wheel’ – A Story From a Nurse Who Does 12-hour Shifts Before Commuting Home

Experts warn that nurses are “being put seriously at risk” by being forced commute for long distances after they work 12- or 13-hour shifts.

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Cities including Dublin, Galway and Waterford have a problem with insufficient affordable housing. This is putting some nurses at risk as they have no choice but to make long commutes after working 12- or 13-hour shifts.

The problem is made worse by understaffing, with many nurses not even able to take their breaks. Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s  (INMO ) General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha stated that “many nights, nurses don’t even get their breaks and are then commuting home.” The Road Safety Authority indicated that on Irish roads, shift workers are “most at risk” and driver fatigue can contribute to 1 in 5 deaths of drivers.”

A young nurse who works at Dublin hospital shared that she fell asleep while at the wheel. She had worked a 12-hour night shift. Thankfully, the horns of a frustrated driver who had been in rush hour traffic behind her woke her.

The nurse (who wishes to remain anonymous) said that this was not the first time it happened. It took her more than 3 months to find an affordable place to live. This forced her to commute to work daily and face a three-hour round trip. If she were to take the bus and taxi home, it would take longer and the HSE (Ireland’s Health Services) does not cover expenses for travel.

An HSE spokesperson commented that no public servants are reimbursed for their commutes to and from work. The spokesperson also commented that requests made by nurses based on their commuting requirements would be facilitated “where possible”.

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