Cres Abragan, originally from the Philippines, said he knows of one nurse whose “foster family” told her there is “no need to shower every day” even though she wished to do so. Another colleague was physically assaulted by the woman whose house he was sharing and a third moved out of her accommodation because she felt discriminated against, Mr Abragan said.
Filipino colleagues have also been accused of “taking jobs off the Irish”.
Mr Abragan was speaking at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) conference in Wexford in relation to a motion calling on the Department of Health and the HSE to take immediate steps to improve the working lives of nurses and midwives.
Mr Abragan said his compatriots face particular difficulties if they failed to pass the clinical adaptation process which non-EEA (European Economic Area) nurses are required to undergo.
The process takes about two months to complete during which time the nurses are on the emergency tax rate of 42%. For those who fail the first attempt at clinical adaptation, they can retry in three to six weeks.
However, a second fail could result in a delay of a number of months while awaiting a decision as to whether they can appeal.
Mr Abragan said he knows of one case where a colleague had to wait nine months for a decision. In the meantime, they were out of work and their salary was stopped.
Some student nurses are also finding themselves in a difficult position. Tara Moran, a fourth-year intern from Dunboyne, Co Meath, said students often end up paying to stay in hotels and B&Bs while on work placement in hospitals while also paying rent to retain their college accommodation.
Tara, who attends college in Drogheda, said student nurses can be sent to hospitals in Drogheda, Louth, Dublin, Navan, Co Meath, or Cavan as part of their placements.
“One colleague is paying €70-€75 a night because the closest accommodation to the hospital she is working in is a hotel,” Tara said. The upshot is students end up having to get a part-time job to meet accommodation costs.
“We are being told it is a full-time course and we know that and we are supposed to be turning up, but at the same time we need to be able to pay to go to college,” Tara said. She said she ended up getting sick at the end of second-year “because I was so knackered”.
The pressures caused by excessive form filling was also raised at the conference. One speaker told delegates: “My patient is getting in the way of my documentation”. A motion was passed directing the INMO to ensure “that fundamental nursing/midwifery skills are not lost due to such bureaucracy”.