Saturday, 19 December 2009
Unsafe Staffing: Time to Jump Ship.
I have a meeting with our chief nurse next week. Again. Let's hope he shows up this time. I am going to ensure that my words ruin his christmas.
I am sick of nurse leadership. They don't have a clue. They don't know what to do.
I'd like to organise something like this for as long as I stay here.
Recently worked a 12 hour shift. There were two staff for over 20 beds. That was it. Twenty heavy medical patients that mostly required two to transfer, multiple IV's, patients with dementia constantly falling out of bed, 10 or 12 of them crying and screaming for a nurse all at once all shift. WE couldn't even physically get to any of them 90% of the shift.The shift after us had one nurse.
Our sister ward had one member of staff.-an RN and that was it. A 35 bed surgical-ortho ward had 1 nurse and 1 care assistant. Express medical admissions had 2 people staffing it for 12 hours. So basically I had it good. My patients are a lot more stable and there were 2 RN's. Horrendous but better than other wards. I have never had so much back pain in my life. I am in agony and can barely sit still while I type this. Merry fucking Christmas. Decent hospital management is supposed to invest in frontline staff and regular staff pools as well as on call staff. They cannot invest enough in this kind of thing and it would save them money in the long run. But instead they let everyone go, and try to band aid everything with agency care assistants (NOT NURSES). Then they refuse to allow us to call agency anyway.
A couple of Patients were on the phone (mobiles) to their families about the lack of care.... who then got all upset and tried to ring the ward and speak to the "nurses" to find out what was going on. The constant ringing phone just took us away from those patients even more. They complained about us if we didn't answer the phone, but when we did leave the area where we could see the patients to answer the phone our patients got hurt. Not one of those family members rang management to complain about staffing levels. They just laid into the nurse who was trying to get away from the phone and get back to the patient area.
The site manager (nurse supervisor on duty) did what he could. There was no staff anywhere in the hospital to pull from. He tried to come to each ward for some minutes and take over to give each staff member a quick break. He did this all night. No stopping for him. Twelve hours is a long time to go without food and water and constant cognitive overload.
A teacher, office worker, etc would have lost their rag after 10 minutes. Imagine a teacher's reaction to having to work 12-14 hours non stop in an area of education that they were not used to teaching. Then give them 30 kids they never met before. Then set it up in such a way that they are having to leave their classroom every 2 minutes to answer the phone and speak to families members of their pupils. When I call my kids' school I leave a message for the teacher and she rings me back in the next day or two. And it's not like she has life and death situations to walk away from in order to answer the phone! Imagine if a classroom teacher had to run to the office and answer the phone every two minutes and imagine if this action could get one of her pupils killed. Then imagine that her headteacher was threatening her with disciplinary action every time the phone didn't get answered while refusing to hire admin staff. Teachers would run a mile in this situation. Run a mile.
My patient had a reaction to a drug. Scared me enough to really make me tremble and get nauseous. The drug I needed to stop the reaction was not on the ward. Pharmacy was closed. I had to leave him and my other patients and ring around until I found a ward that had the drug. The only other member of staff had a bleeder and we were dealing with that as well. Could not leave the ward. My patient was not crashing out but very unwell. Believe me when I say we could not leave that ward. Add a dozen 90 year old patients to the mix screaming for their mamas over and over again and you can get a feel for the situation.
But then I had to ring around and find a ward that had the drug and enough staff on duty for one to leave and bring it to us. Couldn't leave my ward with only one person. God knows what the porter was doing. He said he couldn't get the drug and bring it. I asked him what he was possibly doing that was more important! They are fucking porters for christ sake not professionals with accountability. Rather than waste time arguing I went back to ringing wards and found one with 3 people on duty and my drug. They legged it up to me. It took me way too much time on the phone to obtain this drug in an emergency situation.
When the ringing relatives managed to get their call answered they pissed and moaned about the line being busy for so long, the phone not being answered right away....keeping me away from the patients even longer to give me an over the phone bollocking. These people must have some level of mental retardation. Morons probably think I was on the phone chatting to one of my boyfriends. Remember that everything these idiots ever learned about Nursing comes from the Daily Fail and No Angels.
We are getting no help from the NMC, the unions etc.
Make no mistake about it, nurses and senior nurses have been reporting these issues and believe me the NMC will to go after frontline staff. If the NMC, the RCN, and Unison say that we haven't been whistleblowing then they have confused me completely. Those in a position of power will not even acknowledge the staffing issues and the antiquated system/layouts/and ward set up nor will they acknowledge other management failures. Our incident and grievance forms are probably being used to light some administrators oven. Too many NHS nurses cannot function at all in their working conditions, not even the good ones.
They are only focused on going after individual nurses.And like the public they are blind to the real issues. They just don't want to face it. It's more fun to go after the frontline nurses who are trapped in a situation where they cannot function.
It's time to jump ship. I have said this for a long time but have not been pro-active about it. But the housing market is improving. Had a long talk with the other half recently. He hasn't got a transfer back overseas yet that we have been waiting for. We are not waiting any longer. I hate to mess up his career in this economy but he is packing it in and we are getting out. It's a big thing to ask. But he understands and is supportive. At least someone (who is not a nurse) is understanding and supportive. I am sure that somewhere in the NHS there are wards functioning well...but they probably won't be for long and I am not going to risk it.