After working for the NHS for the past 20 years my wife leaves tonight for a job in the private sector. She has had time out before when on maternity leave and then while we were living in the US.
My wife will be working in the hospital where I had my back operation, on the same ward no less. There was I lying in my sick bed, and the nurses were offering my wife a job!! The sister who worked on the ward knew my wife and was doing a good sales pitch. Despite the good words said about the private hospital, my wife still struggled with her morals as do most nurses when they consider leaving the NHS. A lot of them see it as going over to the dark side.
Personally, the extra money she will be getting is not the reason why I am glad to see her go. I doubt if it will be that much in the long run anyway, but for me the biggest issue I have is the stress that she has been placed under at the North Hants Hospital.
As I mentioned months ago, there were periods when she would finish a 3-4 day stint and the following day or week, the rest of the family would go down with some major new virulent strain of diarrhea and vomiting bug. She even came down with it a few times and the nurses usually have a strong immunity to most of the diseases that go around being in contact with them nearly all of the time.
When we were in the US, although very pricey even with Medical Insurance, the medical care itself was first rate. When ever I spoke and they realised I was from England, they used to tell me how much they strived to be as good as the NHS. When I laughed they never understood or believed me when I told them how bad it was.
The standard of cleanliness on my wife’s ward is atrocious. The ward was meant to be handling diabetic patients but it looked more like an old people’s home. There were at least 2 deaths a week minimum, sometimes maybe more. Most of the patients were at deaths door, continuously crapping and wetting themselves. There were instances of my wife discovering patients who had been laying in their own 'waste' for so long that it had dried to them. When she brought this up with the day staff, they just had never got round to that patient after cleaning up the other ones.
One of the nurses found that one of the patients had been put on a drip that had expired by some months. (We are not just talking about a few months either). She looked to see who had issued the IV/drip and in turned out to be someone quite senior. She wrote up an incident in the log and some weeks later when the monthly report came out was amazed to see no mention of this in the incident report. When she went to check the log, her entry had miraculously disappeared!!. You see, it’s the senior ward staff that go through and submit the reports to the enquiry board so they were hardly likely to report themselves.
There was also another instance where my wife was instructed to accept some new patients into one of the bays. She said she could not because 2 of the patients had MRSA. More specifically, one of them had tested +ve and still had it, whilst the other had been +ve but was recovering from it and most probably over the threat of passing it on.
Now MRSA is not some superbug restricted to hospitals. Most of us have it ourselves, but we are fit and healthy and therefore it does not affect us in quite the same way. But as I mentioned above, most of the patients on this ward are very sick/or dying. These patients are most at risk from the effects of MRSA and are not able to fight it off on their own. (And there are not many drugs that can help either). When she complained that there was no room she was told in no uncertain terms to open up the bay with the two MRSA patients in. Despite her complaints she was overruled and told the patients were on the way down. She took the decision to move the most serious MRSA patient about 20-30 yards down the corridor effectively placing the patient on another ward, even though it was not even a stones throw from his old bay. My wife and a few other nurses then spent a good while scrubbing down the bay to minimize the effects of the MRSA bug from the previous patient.
The two new patients duly arrived and were placed into a very clean bay of their own. The fallout the next morning was unbelievable. The ward sister gave my wife a right telling off for moving the patient off the ward. It meant that the patients doctor had to walk an extra few feet to go see his patient, and the patient was no longer on 'his' ward. He apparently did his nut at the ward sister and rather than stand up for her staff, she just agreed with the doctor and gave a rollicking to my wife. This was despite my wife actually speaking to another senior ward sister who agreed with her only to then back up the doctor once he went ape.
(These would also be the same senior ward staff that has control over the incident log by the way!).
There was one night when my wife went into work, opened the door to the ward to be met by complete darkness. They had shut the ward because of infections from various bugs and moved it somewhere else. It took her almost 45minutes to find out where they had been moved to. (She was joined by a couple more staff on her travels).
This happened quite often, but the most serious ward change events happened when the opened up a specific ward to look after all patients from other wards that had super bugs of all sorts. One night, she was volunteered to work on one such ward, so her and a few other nurses from the other wards were sent down to man the 'super bug' ward. This usually meant that a ward that had been closed due to lack of funds was opened up just to take patients from around the hospital. It meant barrier nursing at all times, and she was only allowed to work on this ward until all the patients were able to return to their own wards.
On one such night, a patient arrested just after they had starter their shift. When they eventually found the crash trolley there was a lot of essential equipment missing. Most of the drugs that they needed were not there. This meant someone running round the other wards trying to beg borrow or steal. But because they were the nasty infections ward, they were effectively banned from entering all the other wards in the hospital, so a lot of telephoning and shouting through doors was done.
As it was for a lot of supplies, none of the wards wanted to give them anything because it was going to come off their budget of which ALL wards were already massively overspent. It took a lot of arguing or stealing or some helpful member of staff going against their senior staff to get what they needed to run the ward.
At this moment in time, there is a total ban on overtime by ALL staff. They are not allowed to use bank nurses at all right now because they cannot afford to pay the bank nurses wages. (There is actually a limit of 7 bank nurse uses a month, but last night alone there was a requirement for 31 bank nurses). They are also talking about making redundancies because they do not have enough money to pay the wages so it appears that some nursing staff will be losing their jobs. Basically what will happen is a few more wards will be shut down with some staff laid off, and some moved to other wards.
You will notice that there are a lot of foreign nurses in our hospitals at the moment. A lot of them came over at the request of the NHS having been lured to come work for the best health authority in the world. After all, it was us who created the free healthcare program for all. A lot of them were taken on with 2, 3 or 4 year contracts. Most of them want to break those contracts too. They are so shocked and feel so betrayed. Many of the nurses brought in are way more qualified than any of the British nurses, but are not employed in high positions. They are used at the lowest levels possible in many cases. In some instances, foreign nurses are being employed as Health Assistants having been told it’s basically a nurse. Most of them are shocked at the state of the hospitals and wish they had never moved. It seems because they speak English with very strong accents that we think we must talk 'very slowly' to them in the typical English arrogance that we have towards anyone who does not speak English as a first language. We ignore there qualifications say that they are not British. A few of them were promised that they would be promoted after a while, but none are. There is nurse on my wife’s ward who back home in her home country 'ran' the whole hospital. Over here she is in the most junior position because her English is not as good as it was expected to be. A total crock of poo if ever I heard one, she speaks extremely good English, but with a very strong accent.
A lot of the Indian nurses and many of the other foreign nurses also refuse, or more correctly don't expect to do cleaning as part of their job. After all, they are nurses so they nurse. In their own countries there is a cast system usually whereby the lower class citizens are employed to do the menial tasks. Their hospitals are most often spotless because they have an abundance of cleaners (actually thanks now to the NHS they too have shortages of trained medical staff, although once the stories get back and the contracts of those over here end, it will get better once again). They do clean, but only after being told to by a member of staff. They just don't think of doing it when they see it because it is not what they are used to. Most often, the senior staff just ignores it because they are just glad to have the numbers on the wards.
There was a case the other night where a temporary member of staff came on shift for a night duty was so appalled by the conditions that when she went on her break, she carried on home. She'd had enough. Most of the staff end their shift in tears having become so stress out. Our nurses are burning themselves out and nothing is being done about it. The thing about nurses is that they don't complain, they don't like to rock the boat and they will do as they are told. They give 110% to the patient and 0% to themselves. You could pay them peanuts and they would do the job, (oh yeah, we do pay them peanuts!!).
It is not just the North Hants Hospital (North Hampshire Hospital - NHH), the whole of the NHS is falling apart. I am glad that my wife is out of it, because of the conditions she was working and being put under.
We have another few years before the next elections when it will become top news again, but until then, it will be swept under the carpet. Upper management will juggle the books, waiting lists will get longer, staff numbers will drop below the already dangerous levels that exist.
I cannot understand why the NHS management do not run their hospitals as if they were private hospitals. At the moment they have management that like to thing they do just that except they don't have shareholders to keep happy. If a management team in a private hospital started losing money, they'd be out before the end of the week make no mistake about it. The problems are a lot greater than that and not as simple as I make it out to be, but hello... Private hospitals are working and are making a profit. They have a great standard of care and a great success rate. There are still people in the UK who would not go private because its 'not the done thing'. The 'I am not from that class of people who go private". Erm... hello, this is the 21st century. Apparently you have paid your money in taxes so why bother paying more money out to a private hospital. Well actually, by going private if you can afford it, you are actually saving more money. The NHS hospitals are so inefficient that they make a loss for each patient that they treat. So by taking yourself private you are saving that loss! Therefore reducing your taxes.
I would like to see an NHS hospital set up as a private hospital, only treating NHS patients. It won't get its money from Health Insurance companies, it will be paid by the patients local health authority. It will have nursing staff supplied by the NHS being paid NHS levels (or probably greater since there will be more money available). They will have access to the same level of diagnostics that private hospitals have and will pay for them in the same way. It needs taking back to square one and starting again. Something has to happen before our whole countries health system collapses.
Just imagine one major outbreak of 'Bird Flu' and we won't need to worry about high house prices and unemployment for a long long time. We'll have ghost towns the size of Birmingham and hardly any jobs to work at. It will do more damage to the UK than all of any previous World Wars.
Posted by Chris Wright at July 30, 2005 11:47 PM
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Hi It really is that bad. Nurses and doctors are both being dragged into lives of stress and misery by the NHS. I hope your wife is happy doing whatever she moved on to. I am still working out my own alternatives to working in the NHS for the rest of my life. If your wife has any tips: www.gettingcaned.blogspot.com
Posted by: Vegas at November 19, 2005 8:21 PM