“For the past 27 years, I have worked as a nurse. As with all nursing jobs, it is very challenging, with so much to do and so little time. At times, as nurses, we all expect to make some sacrifices when caring for patients, be it working late, going without lunch or working some unpaid overtime. It’s what we do - putting others before ourselves. However, over the past five years, I have experienced a change in the practice setting, with a significant loss of skilled, experienced nurses (either leaving to work elsewhere or retiring from work) and with few to fill the vacancies. This has impacted greatly on patient care and on the nursing team, which is trying to do a difficult job and maintain standards of care but with precious few resources.
“My working reality is fraught with anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and no clear vision or purpose of the service. There is a stressed-out, destabilised workforce. I see nurses cry on a regular basis, due to frustration/anxiety and being overwhelmed by ever-increasing demands and pressure to work at optimum levels. Each day I start my shift wondering how many staff will phone in sick today. I ask myself how we are going to keep the patients in our care safe. I have experienced conflict with senior managers, who lack an understanding of the complexities of the job. I worry about the psychological impact this current situation has on myself, my colleagues and the patients we care for. It is a workforce that is disheartened and dispirited. We are certainly not working in a climate which nurtures talent or gives nurses the opportunity to do their best. There is a culture of blame and I do not feel truly valued for the work that I and my colleagues do every day. Nurses are feeling humiliated and are experiencing serious stress issues. I want to leave my job, and so do many other conscientious nurses that I work with. This is a very bleak and sad situation. Every nurse should know their worth and not feel they are compromising their values due to circumstances beyond their control.”
Registered nurse, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust