Monday 11 December 2017

Health crisis: 'I love my job, but there are days when you dread having to face the crowd'

As overcrowding in hospitals hits record levels, one nurse reveals how the fear of mistakes at work causes health workers to lose sleep:

'Anybody who is sick should be at the very least able to lie down and should be cared for.' (stock photo)
'Anybody who is sick should be at the very least able to lie down and should be cared for.' (stock photo) Newsdesk Newsdesk

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 5pm before the next bed was available, even though some of those patients were there for two days.

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

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.

Read more: Row of 'at least 16 ambulances' pictured outside A&E at major hospital - with nowhere to drop off patients

The patients on corridors 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.

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 9 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'.

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

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 and often we are their only voice.

Irish Independent

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