Friday 21 July 2017

Exclusive: Nurse admits colleagues 'dread' work because they're afraid of making mistakes while juggling too many jobs

As overcrowding in hospitals hits record levels one nurse reveals how the fear that mistakes may be made at work causes nurses to lose sleep

Photo: Getty Images Stock
Photo: Getty Images Stock
(Stock photo)

As the number of patients on trolleys in Irish hospital hit it's highest level ever on Wednesday amid warnings that the crisis is only going to get worse, one nurse gave Independent.ie her account:

On the busiest day in Irish hospitals for overcrowding my colleagues and I started work at 7.30am with 22 patients awaiting admission.

But it was lunchtime before the first patient got a bed and 5.00pm before the next bed was available, even though some of those patients were there for two days.

In the last number of years we’ve seen our numbers increase and the number of people on trolleys increase year and year.

But when we ask for help we are told there is no help. There are no more nurses to come down to help us out. Even when we are running out of trolleys and borrowing them from other departments.

On Wednesday I must have had ten people say to me ‘How do you work here?’ And sometimes I’m left wondering the same.

Every nurse goes into work with serious concerns that we’ll make a mistake, that we’ll forget to do something or we’ll omit something important because we are juggling so many jobs at once.

I’m working 26 years and I love my job but there are days when you dread going into work and facing the crowd; worrying that I won’t get to give proper care to people.

The patients on the corridor on the are the biggest worry for us. It’s very difficult to look after someone who has high care needs in corridors. These are often people who are elderly,frail, who need toileting and rest and room to walk around.

If you run out of trolleys you are left with the decision to make as to who gets a trolley and who doesn’t? That’s a very difficult decision to make.

Read more: Record levels of overcrowding at hospitals remain for second day in row

Anybody who is sick should be at the very least able to lie down and should be cared for. That’s the most basic thing everyone deserves.

January 9th last year was a very bad day in Emergency departments which we can remember well because we had Workplace Relations Commission discussions the next day about how we were going to address overcrowding.

Here we are a year on and yesterday I looked around and thought ‘nothing changed’.

Morale

I work with a great bunch of people, everyone works very hard in difficult conditions but morale is very low.

It’s hard for new staff especially because if it’s that busy they are not getting enough training from senior staff.

We wonder does anybody care that we work for hours without proper breaks because we don’t have time to take one?

You leave the ward thinking how are the night staff going to cope.

At night you are losing sleep because you’re thinking about everything you did or didn’t get to do. The stress levels are huge.

Despite the fact that they are often left waiting on trolleys, the patients are always wonderful. They never complain, they always appreciate how busy we are and often we are their only voice.

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