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Newly qualified nurse speaks of ‘overwhelming stress and exhaustion’ with every shift

A recent survey revealed that nurses feel they are struggling to keep their patients safe in the face of Governmental cut-backs.

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stressed nurse
Dean Mitchell

The newly qualified nurse has spoken of “overwhelming stress” and “exhaustion” with every shift.

In a post shared on social media, a newly qualified A&E nurse has spoken of the “overwhelming stress” that comes with the role.

She said: “I’m 7 months post qualification and you have broken me.

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I arrive on duty to shift (after being called in due to low staffing levels) to there being 2 of us on the main A&E floor. There’s meant to be six nurses in this area.

“Treatments are piled up, chest pain, sepsis, confusion, intoxication – the list goes on. I took over 7 cubicles, each of them needed all of the initial assessments, 3 needed morphine, all needed a new set of observations.

The clearly over-worked nurse then talks about the difficulty of balancing a cardiac arrest and several emergencies admissions with her other pre-existing workload; “Our already huge workload was piling up every minute, I have not had a spare split second today, none of us have. How can it be that 13hrs is not enough time?

“I’ve trained so hard for this, really hard, we all have. How can it be that now I’m finally where I want to be, [but] I cry with exhaustion and overwhelming stress with every shift? I do not want to feel like this anymore.

Adding; “It’s the people that keep me going. Our fantastic team who work like Trojan horses day in day out.”

“Our patients, who mostly are having the very worst day of their lives. In amongst all the chaos, I can see how much they need me. So I keep going. Like we all do.

“My worry is how long I can keep this up?”, she adds.

Signing off the post with “What’s even sadder, is that I’ve had to work extra agency shifts to be able to afford a 4 day UK caravan holiday for my family. Nothing posh or fancy, just time away for the holidays. What was leftover from my wages wasn’t enough to cover it.”

Earlier this month it was announced that applications to undergraduate nursing degrees had dropped by a further 12% and a major survey by Nursing Standard and the Sunday Mirror, two-thirds of nurses say that patient care has deteriorated significantly in the past five years.

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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