Recently the Health Select Committee led by Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, published a report into the nursing crisis. They noted that there has been a significant increase in the number of nursing vacancies. The latest figures show we are lacking 40,000 nurses. This alarms me, and I am sure it does you too. But where is the government’s plan to nurture and repair the nursing workforce? Where is their panic and worry about who will care for the nation unless they address these pertinent issues? The government’s short response stated we have 'XXX' more nurses on our wards. And that was it. This response is so robotic and lacking in substance. The nursing crisis is not an issue that can be pushed aside, this is the difference to patients of being able to get care or not.
The report also found that nurses expressed a lack of basic facilities to enable them to take their breaks and often lacked the time to take them. Additionally, it found that care was being compromised due to the extensive pressure in the NHS, and as part of this nurses felt they did not have time to sit and talk to patients. The report also found that the pay restraint had left nurses feeling broke and underappreciated.
I am certain most nurses have felt some of these feelings before and it has only been getting worse.
At work some days I am often so busy I feel I cannot take the time to take a break, as I know patients are relying on me and I feel guilty. Or on other days we are simply so busy I feel like I am firefighting - before I know it its home time and I have not been to the toilet that day. We all know that to care for others we need to care for ourselves, but I just find it hard to walk away.
Nurses commonly leave work late, and we do thousands of hours of free overtime a year to keep the NHS afloat. When we cannot give the care to patients we want like we have let people down. Tears are common, because we simply want to be facilitated to give our patients the care they deserve.
No one came into nursing to be a millionaire, I would have chosen a different career if i felt the need to be spending £44k on a toilet like the Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt. However, we have the right to be paid fairly for the work we do. Nurses are critical to patient safety, we work long hours, and we are highly skilled and trained. We are a very valuable profession. Yet after 8 years of pay restraint, we do not feel like we are worth that much at all. We feel completely ignored.
As a profession in the last year we have been shouting from the roof tops to try and salvage what we have left of our profession which has been destroyed by this government. The Tories have scrapped our bursaries, capped our pay, stopped work on safe staffing, cut our post registration education funding and have eroded our working conditions so much that we now have more nurses leaving the NHS than joining. Enough is enough!
At the demonstration on Saturday we will demand that the government must address the nursing crisis. I will be there in force with my fellow nurses asking the government to reinstate our bursary with immediate effect, scrap the public sector pay cap and give nurses and other NHS staff a fair, above inflation, pay award and to introduce safe staffing laws onto our wards. These three demands would begin to solve the nursing crisis and were all in the Labour Manifesto for the 2017 General Election. Labour understand we need to be nurtured, to feel valued and feel like we have the time to care for others, and that is why oour NHS desperately needs a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.
Please come along and stand up for your nurses and our NHS. Together we staff and patients can be a force to be reckoned with and achieve a change for the many.
- For more information on Saturday’s NHS demonstration see https://www.facebook.com/events/174477699821503/
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