“I have worked as a registered nurse (band 5) within learning disability for the past 30 years or so. I have seen many changes over the years but there have always been staffing issues and stressful situations in this challenging area of nursing practice. However, recently, I have felt less able to cope with these situations. Current low staffing levels and the lack of experienced staff contribute to an unsafe environment for patients. I feel constantly frustrated on a daily basis at the compromised level of care we are able to provide, with seemingly little support or understanding from senior nurse managers.
“Working in an area dealing with people with extremely challenging behaviours, we are constantly coping with aggressive incidents and assaults, resulting not only in patients getting hurt but staff too, some with quite serious injuries. This results in a high level of sick leave. Staff that remain feel highly stressed, under pressure and even scared. No one should have to go into work feeling like this and, in turn, it affects staff performance and morale. The continuing lack of resources make it very difficult for staff to have confidence in managing difficult situations. Within my area of work, I have also seen people become completely desensitised to situations, seeing assaults as part of the norm and expecting low staffing levels day after day, simply accepting it as no one appears to listen. Surely this is not good.
“Obviously, having spent so many years in the same job, I have not always been so disillusioned and, indeed, I have many rewarding stories to tell but recent years have led me (and others) to rethink our careers, even considering other posts that are not nursing-related. Many staff are leaving and currently there is nothing to entice people to become part of the workforce.”
Band 5 nurse, Northern Ireland