Almost every week we seem to be bombarded with stories about the strains the NHS is facing. Shocking news of cuts, unreasonable pay and the stressful working conditions has been just a few of the factors that caused many desperately needed health care professionals to quit, including over 34,000 NHS nurses last year. However, despite all the terror we see on the news, there are improvements being made and schemes already in place to address some of the hard-hitting issues they face. Is this enough to help the issues NHS staff are facing right now?
Stress is one of the biggest problems a working individual can face and nurses are currently suffering from it more than ever. According to one nurse working in A&E, ‘the NHS is on its knees and we are too,’ describing the feeling of having to work hellish thirteen-hour shifts that have left many in her position in tears, suffering majorly from the strain of a system that sometimes struggles to support them. Nursing is already a stressful profession no one can deny, but when coupled with the other troubles the NHS is currently facing, it can make the pressure even worse.
This is an issue realised by many and recently it’s been asked that an emphasis on the teaching of proper psychology and morality should be placed on the curriculum for student nurses to help deal with stressful situations efficiently. While that won’t solve all the issues that NHS nurses are facing right now, it could still be a big help when some emergencies do arise.
The anger at the 1 per cent pay cap for many working in the public sector, including those in the NHS, made headlines throughout the country. The junior doctors were amongst the first to strike against this measure, but the nurses look like they could be soon to follow which will be the first time in history for them. However, just last month Theresa May and Phillip Hammond signalled that there are plans to raise this cap from April next year, and that Public-sector pay should be set to rise above inflation for the first time in almost a decade. This scheme is only a plan right now, but it’s a welcome report for many.
While poor pay is only the 4th biggest reason that people leave the NHS, scrapping the cap would bring relief to many professionals, including a huge number public-sector workers.
Ironically, another reason for so many NHS nurses leaving their jobs is staff shortages. Many have found themselves working with less than the minimum number of required staff on shift. One such nurse was called in to cover a shift in A&E and having only one other team member to divide the workload with. Her outcry of “I cry with exhaustion and overwhelming stress with every shift. I do not wish to feel like this anymore,” gained a lot of buzz when her experience was shared on social media with many other nurses able to relate to her plight.
The good news is, currently thousands more nursing placements are being funded to boost the number of student nurses by 2020, which should hopefully help with the stress caused by the current shortage.
While it’s easy to panic when we hear stories about our NHS being in crisis, the last year has seen some big advancements. Launched last year, the scheme NHS Improvement has done a lot to help the system. With goals to help improve many different aspects of our NHS, it has seen some great results including: exceeding their target for the number of trusts exiting special measures; NHS trusts receiving £600 million from the STF; helping the NHS save £165 million last year; and much more!
While, of course, there are still improvements begging to be made and many NHS worker still dissatisfied with aspects of the system, many are trying to alleviate the pressures felt by people working in the sector.
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