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“The people have spoken”: nurses obtain better working conditions in historic vote in Switzerland


Swiss voters voted on two federal initiatives on Sunday as they gathered to vote on coronavirus laws and working conditions for nurses.

Turnout was high for both referendums, with 65.7% of eligible voters voting on COVID-19 laws and 65.3% on the initiative of nurses.

Although eclipsed by the coronavirus initiative when most people backed the government’s call to maintain restrictions, the vote on changing working conditions for nurses secured a majority of 61%.

Howard Catton, CEO of the International Council of Nurses, told Euronews why the vote was unique.

“In Switzerland, nurses had heard applause from around the world but they wanted to see real action. And through this vote, which was an overwhelming democratic mandate, the people have spoken,” Catton said.

“I think people are ahead of their government and say ‘Listen, we want to turn our applause into real action, educate more nurses, improve working conditions, enable nurses to work to their full potential” because ‘They recognized how central investment in nursing is to the strength of health systems,’ he continued.

In the first months of the pandemic, thousands of people around the world were seen applauding to show gratitude for the efforts of nurses and doctors, but calls from health systems for better funding and improvements in their working conditions were quickly forgotten.

“You’re right, we’re seeing striking similarities around the world in these issues that affect nurses and even healthcare. This means in Switzerland that in four years nursing will appear in the Swiss Constitution, but before that, nurses will work with politicians to come up with more specific laws in terms of ensuring that enough nurses are trained, that nurses are trained. staffing levels are sure, that there are also good working conditions. these problems, ”added Catton.

Governments across Europe have previously said they want to increase support for nursing and health care, as well as recruit more people to help their nurses, with some looking overseas to do so.

“This funding problem – when we don’t invest, things go wrong. There are mistakes. There are mistakes. There are more risks to patients,” Catton said.

“And these are a tragedy in themselves. But they also cost more money. So that makes sense in health terms and in economic terms as well.”

_Watch Howard Catton’s full interview in the video player above. _

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