I hate them. In the late 19th and early 20th century they were necessary. They brought into being good policies that are now enshrined in law. Now they just exist to make themselves money and scoff at people who actually take on responsibility and work for a living.
I recently read a comment on this blog that concerned me. I am afraid that the author of the comment saw the word "militant" in the title of this blog and mistook me for some pro union communist bitch. He didn't say that but that is what people think of Nurses isn' it. So lets clear things up. We may have to be hard bitches to stop people from getting hurt and dying in hospital but I think most nurses realise that unions are nothing but a really, really bad joke.
This is the quick, quick version of Nurse Anne's take on unions:
Please do not see the word militant in the title of this blog and think that we are pro-union.
Frontline clinical hospital nurses understand better than ANYONE that unions are worthless, evil extortion machines that care nothing for the people that they are supposed to represent.
Most Nurses are in the RCN for the liability insurance they provide. We need this to practice.
It would be very easy for any hospital nurse to get distracted by one of her 15 patients and their relatives long enough to make a fatal error. Long enough for this to happen is two minutes. That is the sole reason the RCN got my money. If that happened to me they would help me with the legal stuff. Supposedly.
Unions show no interest in and can do nothing about the short staffing, poor skill mix, shit working conditions, and unsafe patient care. They know they can't do a thing about it. They are only interested in making money for themselves.
When I, at 26 weeks pregnant, was left as the only RN on a 21 bed ward for 14.5 hours unable to eat, drink, sit down or pee during all that time without risking a manslaughter charge the RCN did not want to hear about it. The RCN rep told me that I should have "left the patients and gone for a lie down if it was so bad". Those were my days as an NHS Staff Nurse.
The other staff I had working with me that day were untrained care assistants and they could not help me with drugs, orders, assessments, monitoring and information management for all those patients. They were parked at the Nurse's station having a natter. You can see how it looks to the patients and visitors. On that day there were so many patients on IV drugs that it took me 50 minutes out of every hour to just mix and prepare, and administer the damn things. That includes all the time I had to spend chasing pharmacy to get the fucking things. And on average I was getting them to the patients about 3 hours late. That is because there were so many other things going on simultaneously to those drugs that on an RN could handle. And I was the only RN.
The care assistants cannot help me with that, nor can they give information about the patient's care to relatives who were queing up at the nurse's station to get information------wondering why all the "nurses" were sat at the desk ignoring them whilst mum's IV meds were late.
Had the NHS hired all those new grad nurses that they trained; days like that never would have happened to me. I would have had other trained nurses working with me. You all bitch about new nurse training causing standards to slip. Standards have actually slipped because trained nurses have been replaced on the wards with people who have never attended nursing school. The one RN on duty gets overwhelmed and things get delayed. Mistakes get made. One hundred hardworking, good care assistants working with the RN cannot prevent that. That is why standards are slipping.
What I am militant about on militant medical nurse is that fact that unions are bastard extortion machines that make it easy for management to starve the frontlines (especially nursing) of resources and funding. Unions care about unions. The end.
Please do not believe this bullshit that goes around about NHS nurses having an easy time of it compared to the private sector because they are unionsed public servants.
The RCN got my money every fucking month because I need liability insurance. I know that they won't do shit about working conditions and patient safety.
I am now abroad. My new hospital is non unionised. The folks that run my new hospital have won awards for treating their nursing staff so well. These people understand that when RN's have manageable patient loads, are well resourced, respected, and supported, our patients get better care. It is cash well invested and makes the hospital money that gets put back into even better care for the patients. We are non profit but not government. It is a good cycle.
All those expensive unions in the UK have never, ever made an attempt to get NHS managers and UK politicians to understand this. Unions are just extortion machines that are interested in making money for themselves. The doctors have the same problems with their union in the UK. Even if these unions gave a shit, they would still be powerless to change anything at this point, unless they were completely restructured. Maybe if NHS nurses had decent unions who were simply about protecting the worker things would be okay. But they are far from okay.
So I am non unionised now and can buy my own malpractice insurance. I am so happy these days I weep for joy. I now love my work. I am so happy to be back in the private sector that I cannot stop smiling. Yes I am non unionsed, and if I make a mistake my new employer can fire me at will. So what? If I fuck up that badly with only 4 patients,and much in the way of 24/7 back up and support then I deserve to get the sack. I don't always get a lunch break in a 12 hour shift. But I get them a lot more now than I did when I was a unionised NHS
Australia: One RN (an RN is a person who has attended Nursing school) to 4 patients on a general medical ward. 24/7 Pharmacy, clerks, and housekeeping support the RN making it easier for her to get her patients what they need.
USA: One RN to 4-7 patients on a 30 bed general medical ward. 24/7 Pharmacy, clerks, and housekeeping support the RN making it easier for her to get her patients what they need.
Singapore: One RN to 4-7 patients on a 30 bed general medical ward. 24/7 Pharmacy, clerks, and housekeeping support the RN making it easier for her to get her patients what they need. This is what singamore nurses tell me anyway. I've never been there.
England One RN to 12, 15 or 30 patients on a 30-ish bed medical ward. She might have several untrained carers that assist with basic care only. Pharmacy, clerks, and housekeeping are 9-5 and dump on the RN. If the RN doesn't do their bidding, the patient doesn't get what he needs and the Nurse gets the blame. The RCN is oblivious.
And I think the UK is more heavily unionised. What does that tell you?