For seven years I have been proud to be a part of the caring profession. Nurses and carers are strong and fierce, dealing with challenges with our heads held high. We just ‘get on with it’.
But lately I wonder whether this strategy has done us any favours. We work in an environment that is under huge pressures. We all know about the empty beds we never have, A&Es that always seem to be full, managers endlessly trying to sort out staffing issues, complaints piling up on the matrons desk, and lunch breaks that seem to disappear leaving you dehydrated and with a massive headache. And don’t forget the increased complexity of are with people living longer and presenting with multi-morbidity and complex discharge issues.
Don’t get me wrong. Nursing is a beautiful profession and valuable profession. The patient-nurse relationship is unique and sacred, and cannot be explained to anyone who has not experienced it. But as a profession, where do we stand? Within this massive system that we call the NHS, what is our position? I am afraid that our ‘getting on with it’ attitude has given the impression that we will just make do.
The main trigger to write this blog was the recent decision from the government to cap nurses’ pay rise with 1% for the next four years. Despite growing concerns and pressures in the NHS, the government has decided that those who are facing those pressures on a daily basis do not deserve a proper pay rise. Even though the costs of registering as a nurse have gone up drastically, even though there seems to be enough money to give MPs an awful lot more, even though there rests a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of nurses every time we are on duty, even though we work unsocial hours, even though we have a shortage of nurses and more patients than hospital beds.
What is this going to do to the morale which is already low? I suspect nurses who were thinking about leaving the profession have just been given another reason to do so. And nurses who are staying in the profession have to cope with yet another show of lack of respect. I am not leaving the profession, but I do think that ‘getting on with it’, might not serve us best. I believe that sometimes we have to fight for what we are worth. Although I am not sure how to do this it is important to stand up for ourselves as a unity. We have to show our value and make sure we are treated accordingly, and for the government to cap our pay rise at 1% pay rise is just not good enough.
Have you ever felt taken for granted?