Friday, 14 September 2007
Why am I so Angry?
I am angry because the nursing profession has been destroyed. Nurses are working harder than ever in a rapidly changing environment. Changes in medicine and the way health care is delivered has tripled the workload of hospital nurses. Nurses are caring as well as hard working and we DO CARE about our patients.
The problem is that even the most wonderful, professional, hardworking and caring nurses in the world are not able to cope with their workloads. On average a nurse spends less than 15 minutes with each patient during her 12-14 hour shift. Yet he/she is working so hard that they probably worked 14 hours without eating or even being able to pee. Not only is your nurse working 12-14 hours or more without being able to eat or pee but she is absolutely terrified. Nurse needs to be 10 places at once or someone will suffer or die and nurse gets into big trouble with the law. Patients and visitors want a one to one handmaiden with no concept of how many other patients a nurse has or what is going on with them. Nor do they understand the consequences of the nurse not prioritising correctly. Where are the managers in all this? They are intentionally short staffing the wards knowing full well that the public will take their anger out on the one nurse running her ass off between 30 patients.
Why is this happening? Hospital managers (whether you are in the USA or the UK) only care about money. They are INTENTIONALLY SHORT STAFFING THE WARDS. They are refusing the hire. They don't want to retain their nurses and love to see them burn out and quit. Good nurses are leaving the profession in droves because they are overwhelmed and frightened and cannot stand seeing their patients suffer. I am going to use this blog to focus on these issues. The managers need to be dealt with and the public needs a reality check and they also need to understand what is really going on.
I will start off with asking anyone who has bothered to read this far to look at this petition.
"A growing body of research evidence shows that increases in the number of patients cared for by each nurse leads to increases in hospital-acquired infections, pressure ulcers, malnutrition, dehydration and patient mortality. This also leads to increased levels of stress, demoralisation and "burn-out" among nurses. We therefore feel it is vital to tackle the understaffing of hospital wards. The government should set statutory minimum nurse: patient ratios, with penalties for NHS Trusts that fail to achieve these ratios."
Having set standards regarding staffing not only saves patients lives and reduces complications but it also saves money. Hospitals that have done this have seen their number of complaints plummet. Complaints are a huge expense for the NHS and all hospitals. Hospitals that have implemented this program have also seen their medication and other error rates dramatically decrease. They save more money by having more registered nurses on the wards. Study after study has shown that intentional short staffing by managers is not only dangerous but really very expensive. Registered nurses do make a difference. The managers want as few of them on the wards that they feel they can get away with in order to try and meet their budgets and save money. Having too few nurses around actually has the opposite effect.
Nurses and researchers have known for years that we are not short of qualified nurses...we are short of nurses who are willing to work in hospitals due to the insane and dangerous conditions. These conditions cause nurses to feel overwhelmed and leave. It destroys their health. We train more nurses but we cannot retain them at the bedside due to overwhelming, chaotic and dangerous working conditions. Set nurse patient ratios will allow hardworking nurses to do their jobs and keep nurses nursing. Employing more bedside registered nurses leads to a reduction in expensive patient complications as well as complaints and also saves big money. An astonishing number of qualified British nurses no where near retirement age leave the profession every year due to impossible workloads and increased liability.
If you need to know more and want to see stats and research done on this very subject look here and scroll down: http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/faq/short-staffed.html . If you don't look at this research you probably won't understand what the hell I am on about in this blog.
Nurse are not to posh to wash or too clever to care. We are overloaded and forced to make some really tough deciscions about which one of our multiple patients (who ALL need help now )gets care. Making the wrong decision lands your arse in court and kills someone. Meanwhile all of the "support staff" who have no liability hang around at the nurses station dressed in uniforms nearly identical to ours. That isn't to say that we don't have some excellent support staff that have a very difficult job. My big concern is that the patients/visitors don't know who is who. But that is a whole different topic.
The media and the politicians are abusing and devaluing both doctors and nurses. Yet the doctors are so close minded that they believe that they are the only ones who are the victims of this smear/spin campaign by the powers that be. Doctors jump on the "nurses leave people to lie in their on shit and starve because they don't care" bandwagon just as much as everyone else does. I can forgive the journalists/politicians/and joe public for not having a clue and being ignorant about what's going on with nursing care....but I can't find it in my heart to forgive the doctors. They should know better.
I am also a bit annoyed with former nurses who left the profession in 1982 and haven't been in a hospital since that time who are slagging off the younger nurses. They understand the situation like my hamster understands algebra. It's reality check time. Things are not always as they appear folks.
Off to work.