Saturday, July 10, 2004

Causes of 'sickies' among NHS staff

Culled from today's Times

Sir,

I am a senior staff nurse in the NHS who is on a "sickie" at present (report, July 5) — not one of those short absences after the weekend, but certified by my GP as suffering from "work-related stress and reactive depression".

Why?

Because I work in one of the frontline units where the Government's four-hour maximum waiting time targets for patients apply. Because the relentless pressure on nurses in the unit means that we often have to complete our shifts without any break.

Because so many of our colleagues have left that we receive telephone calls on our rare days off to come to work, calls from managers desperate to achieve the Government’s targets.

Because we are daily forced to admit that the chasm between the standard of care we were trained and want to give and the level that we are actually able to deliver is ever widening.

Because entering statistics is more relevant than actually looking after the sick. Because we work on a three-shift rotation that leads to detrimental effects on our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Because it is seldom that we get a weekend or bank holiday off.

Most people can do a short sprint. Few could run a marathon every day. I have been trying to take part in this marathon for 24 years.

I continue to think that nursing brings out the best in me as a person and that my work is a privilege. Tragically, the environment of care has become so hostile that sick leave is the only option for survival.

Yours faithfully,
LAILA KING,
Holly Tree Cottage,
Kiln Lane, Lacey Green,
Buckinghamshire HP27 0PT.
hollytr@nildram.co.uk

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