Overworked and exhausted nurses in the state of Queensland in Australia are turning to prostitution as a better option.
"We could no longer work in such an understaffed and stressful environment," said a former registered nurse of 10 years' experience. She also revealed at least four other colleagues of hers too had begun to work in brothels.
"I was overworked, poorly paid and a mistake could have led to charges if I caused a death," said the woman, described as Jenna and who is a mother of two.
"I came to the conclusion the nursing shortage wasn't my problem but it was my responsibility to protect myself from burning out or making a fatal mistake."
She also highlighted the "tiny tea-rooms" for nurses and the lack of recognition they received.
"After the Bali bomb blasts, the burns unit of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital treated many additional patients. At the end, the doctor was given an award. The nurses got nothing," she said.
Jenna said violence was more of a concern in hospitals than in the sex industry.
"The security (at the brothel) is wonderful. We have buzzers in our room, there are bracelets we can request if you have a client you're a bit suspicious of."
Jenna said she had gone to great lengths to hide her new occupation from her family. "I wear my nurse's uniform to work, I carry my hospital ID. But when I get to work I change. There's a couple of others who do the same," she said.
Queensland Nurses Union assistant secretary Beth Mohle said the union was aware nurses were leaving the system because of workloads and burnout, and were experiencing record levels of frustration.
"A survey of nurses' attitudes undertaken last year found most nurses love nursing but hate their jobs," she said.
"There's a tension there that nurses feel they can't deliver the quality of nursing they want to."
She said based on population growth projections, Queensland would need an additional 16,000 nurses in the private, public and aged-care sectors by 2014.
"Queensland is already behind the rest of Australia in terms of registered nurse numbers and is over-represented in the unlicensed assistant-in-nursing category," Ms Mohle said.
"Of the 16,100 nursing assistants in Australia in 2006, Queensland had a massive 7300, or nearly 50 per cent. This points to a serious skill mix problem, as well as a numerical problem, within the Queensland nursing workforce."
The QNU survey also found 45 per cent of nurses had experienced workplace violence, which is more prevalent in the public and aged-care sectors than in the private sector.
Health Minister Stephen Robertson said it was disappointing some nurses were seeking alternative careers.
"Queensland nurses are now among the highest paid in Australia, having benefited from a 26 per cent wage increase since 2006," he said.
"This is one of the factors which has helped us to recruit an extra 5834 nurses since June 2005."
The minister also declared that Government had created a "safe and supporting working environment for nurses".
"We'll continue to work . . . to ensure we have a strong nursing workforce, equipped to give Queenslanders the first-class health care they expect and deserve," he said.
An anonymous respondent commented in Australian newspaper - "i'm a prison officer and i too have been forced into prostitution to make ends meet. due to the nsw governments proposed reforms im doing it tough. as a male its even harder for me to obtain clients in a rural area. but desperate times call for desperate measures. lucky the owner of the brothel i work at is a workmate and a dear friend. this is very embarrassing however i have no choice. less staff in jails and cuts in penalties and overtime have destroyed my lifestyle.