In response to recent media attention about nurses and nursing care given, we would like to reply to this based on a nurses perspective.
We are a group of nurses working for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Trust who are currently working in an environment undergoing structural changes within medicine and surgical directorates. These changes have been brought about as we (the staff) have been told that we need to reduce our patient capacity as we have to many beds for a district hospital. Yet since these decisions have been made and put in place, the throughput of patients have been immense, so much so that beds are being opened unsafely to combat this, without care for whom will then have to look after these extra patients on the ward. We as nurses fully understand that if people need admission to hospital, we have a duty of care to find them a bed and treat them, but this does not mean putting your other patients on the wards at serious risk. Staffing levels are poor in most areas of the hospital, but if patient admissions increase then why aren’t management doing anything about it? All we seem to hear is about targets and money lost with patient four hour breaches in A&E!
The NMC recently discussed and published a recommendation ratio of one nurse to five patients, with a maximum of eight, yet we know that on some wards this is much more.
We regularly see written in the media - Do nurses care? Well we say Yes, very much so! Especially when we work daily over our paid hours, regularly go without on a 12 hour shift just to provide good nursing care. But how thinly can we spread ourselves without this affecting patient care? The answer is simply - we can’t! When problems do arise in patient care, nursing staff are then blamed, when management should be taking a lot of this responsibility. We regularly go home feeling angry, deflated and upset that we should have done more, but in our hearts we know we have done what we possibly could. In our experience, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospital has a very good nursing care thanks to the staff (not management). Yes care could be improved, but if nurses didn’t work those extra unpaid hours, what would the care really be like?
Nurses are regularly coming to work sick, with the majority of this caused by infections caught from work or illnesses as a direct result of exhaustion, patient attacks and/or having poor diet and fluid intake whilst at work but afraid to stay at home and recuperate as management are then targeting staff and putting you on ‘sick’.
An Overworked Nurse