Hospitals in Wallonia and Brussels were yesterday affected by the second in a series of one-day industrial actions by nurses and nursing assistants protesting at working conditions.
The nurses are particularly critical of the tendency towards shorter stays for patients in hospital, which, together with technological developments, has led to a more intense working atmosphere, an increase in administrative responsibilities and what they call a “dehumanisation” of the profession.
In addition, the medical sector is increasingly searching for ways to make a profit, health care is being commercialised and budgets cut, nurses say.
The campaign has the support of LUSS, the organisation that groups together patient support groups. In a statement released to coincide with yesterday’s action, LUSS writes: “Patients are themselves able to determine that the shortage of staff results in a lower quality of nursing care, and endangers the availability of health care in our hospitals. Concretely, that means it is often impossible to ask questions, to be informed, to decide together with care staff what treatments to consider. Consultations are extremely short, and meeting the doctor in charge of one’s case has become very difficult. The fatigue and poor condition of care personnel leads to a lack of coordination and tensions among staff and with patients. Care and treatment are carried out at top speed, not always correctly, and sometimes not at all. This generalised acceleration puts pressure on staff and their relationship with patients.”
Yesterday’s was the second Tuesday of action; on Monday 3 June hospitals in Brussels belonging to the Iris network held a 24-hour strike, picked up the next day by the CNE professional trade union. In advance of yesterday’s actions, the CNE issued a strike warning to provide legal coverage to those taking part, and called on the sector to continue its actions at least until the formation of new federal and regional governments.