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Discrimination against Indian nurses in Ireland? “Inquiry Launched in Cork After Complaint of Discrimination Against Indian Nurses in Ireland”

Cork: Cork University Hospital has initiated an external inquiry in response to allegations of racial discrimination against Indian nurses. These nurses arrived at the hospital for an adaptation programme, and their complaint, along with a subsequent protest, has prompted this investigation.

The catalyst for this investigation was an incident where a senior staff member displayed racially inappropriate behaviour towards some of the nurses participating in the adaptation programmes. This incident generated significant public outrage.

Twenty-nine nurses who commenced their adaptation at a Cork hospital in early last year united to protest against the racist comments made and formally submitted a letter outlining their concerns to hospital authorities.

While instances of mistreatment of Indian nurses during adaptation programmes have been reported elsewhere in the country, this marks the first public complaint of its kind.

One of the nurses, who unfortunately did not succeed in completing the adaptation course, decided to appeal the hospital’s decision to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) and has since found employment at another hospital. Initially, the group of nurses approached the hospital management through the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), but they were hesitant to collectively file a complaint. Subsequently, two nurses took the step of officially lodging a complaint.

The core of the nurses’ grievance revolves around allegations that certain managers and individuals overseeing the adaptation programme specifically targeted Indian nurses, subjecting them to personal insults, discrimination, and defamatory public remarks.

In April 2022, a group of nurses addressed a letter to the hospital’s top management, expressing concerns about a senior official who had made disparaging remarks about Indian nurses when they initially arrived at the hospital for adaptation training. In their written complaint, the nurses detailed how this staff member had openly used racial slurs and expressed prejudiced views, which resulted in their humiliation and distress.

The senior official involved made serious and highly prejudiced allegations, including unfounded statements such as claiming that ‘Indian nurses neglect hand hygiene after using the bathroom,’ asserting that Indians only come to Ireland with the sole purpose of earning money, suggesting that Irish patients receive inadequate attention even in critical situations, and alleging that Indian nurses primarily migrate to give birth and avail child benefits.

Moreover, these allegations falsely accused Indian nurses of being responsible for the spread of COVID-19, incorrectly claimed that they brought their own food (rice) to the hospital, and wrongly asserted that their earnings were sent back to their home countries instead of being spent in Ireland. Notably, the complaint made by the nurses also cited instances where the official alleged that Indian nurses were responsible for unsanitary conditions in the hospital’s bathrooms.

Another senior officer also made disparaging comments, insinuating that Indian nurses lacked certain knowledge or skills.

The nurses expressed a valid concern that if they raised objections against these insults or if anyone dared to question these remarks, it could have detrimental consequences on their adaptation programme, visa status, and future prospects.

It’s important to acknowledge that foreign residents in the country, including Indians, significantly contribute to the nation’s tax revenue, with many Irish immigrants facing the challenge of renting homes in Ireland. Indian nurses typically pursue opportunities abroad after acquiring higher education qualifications and valuable work experience. Each nurse undergoes a rigorous selection process by the Irish government, which involves stringent quality checks and pre-registration exams. This is precisely why the nurses at Cork University felt compelled to take a public stand against these racist attacks.

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