Unfortunately this is not shocking
I came home from nightshift a few hours ago (I could only sleep for an hour or two so I can cycle back to days tomorrow) and came across this article on my facebook timeline: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/08/an-absolute-warzone-nhs-doctors-describe-their-week-in-ae?CMP=fb_gu
The article is a bit long (as is this post), but it's a pretty amazing first-hand account of what it is really like in some of our country's emergency departments these days. The article is actually put together from what several doctors said when asked what their department has been like over the last seven days and do you know what? I can see it being totally representative of departments all over the country.
Now, I don't work in the actual emergency department, so I cannot say first hand what it is like. But I do work in emergency medicine, in one of the acute receiving units so I have a pretty good idea.
The focus of the article is really two fold: Understaffing and not enough beds. These are, for sure, the two biggest issues in the NHS today.
Why no one in government can see that closing hospitals left right and centre in order to 'better centralise' services was a bad idea I really don't know. Surely it is not rocket science that if you didn't have enough available beds in the first place, halving that amount wasn't likely to be the wisest choice. This is happening all over the country, in order to save money from the NHS budget and to 'centralise services' whatever that means (in reality what it means is that if you don't live in a major city, chances are you will no longer have appointments with a specialist at your nearest hospital, you will need to travel to the nearest city that is designated as the centre for that specialty).
Understaffing is a huge issue, people are leaving the NHS faster than they can recruit replacements for those who leave. Recruitment is a ridiculously slow process and bank cover may or may not show up to cover for a missing member of staff. The use of what they term 'premium agency' nurses and doctors is at an all time high - that's the people who choose when they work, choose where they work and get paid twice what I do to work alongside me doing the same job because they work for an agency rather than directly for the NHS.
Do you know what? I am seriously considering joining them! I actually make myself sick, if I did that I would be contributing to the problem surely? But its hard to argue with being able to work where and when I want and get paid twice as much as I do now. I had never considered working for anyone other than the NHS, I am a massive believer and supporter of the NHS system. I just feel so let down by it, I feel patients are being let down, I feel that I am not being given the time and resources to properly care for my patients some days, I feel its making me a bad nurse.
Reading what the doctors say in this article has made me really realise that nothing is likely to change, it is happening everywhere and the government are unlikely to do anything about it. Some say it is all a ploy, that the government wants to break the NHS deliberately so that they can sell off what's left to private companies. I don't know if that is true and at this point I am not even sure if I care anymore, we all know what the NHS needs to survive, it boils down to an adequate budget really. No more cuts, no more closing of services, decent pay for nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, domestics - every single of us to stop good people leaving the country for better pay because that's what's happening. Nurses and doctors in particular are flocking to countries like Australia and Canada where they feel appreciated, they have a better work life balance and can actually afford the cost of living.
A little over a year ago I was filled with so much hope when I started working in the NHS, sure I knew it had problems and I knew the money was terrible but that was ok it was worth it. I was going to be working for one of the best healthcare systems in the world, one that was free at the point of care, one that provided the best levels of care to people and didn't charge them a single penny - while care may still be free, the level of care is simply not the same as it was even a year ago. It is not the fault of those of us on the front line, its the fault of the people in charge who make us so short staffed we are often doing the work of at least two people, often going without breaks to try to keep up with the workload. Now I just want out.
I want to have a life outside work, I don't want to come in from every single shift simply broken. Sore and exhausted and probably pretty hungry too with only nine or so hours until I need to wake back up and do it all over again. I love my job, but I hate the system.