Nurse morale ‘rock bottom’

A former nurse at Victoria Hospital felt she was "constantly letting patients down" Pic: FPA
A former nurse at Victoria Hospital felt she was "constantly letting patients down" Pic: FPA

Morale among nurses is at “rock bottom” according to frontline staff in Fife.

The claim comes after a Scottish survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed half of staff questioned said patient care was compromised on their most recent shift due to lack of personnel.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s health Committee the RCN highlighted high vacancy rates for nurses as “a great cause for concern” – claiming Scotland was not training enough nurses to meet future demand.

According to latest statistics, Fife NHS employs 3545 nursing and midwifery staff, with vacancies currently standing at 110 posts.

A registered nurse, with a nearly a decade of experience working at Victoria and Queen Margaret hospitals, recently decided to leave the profession after feeling she was “constantly letting patients down”.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Press: “It differs from area to area but, for the most part, morale is at rock bottom.

“The job is relentless, the numbers are low. We are putting nurses in charge that have been qualified only six months.”

Nurses were working “non-stop” 12-hour shifts and not properly eating or drinkng, leaving them physically and emotionally drained.“The paperwork is ridiculous. Reams and reams of it; it’s ridiculous,” she added.

“You want to be able to connect to patients and talk to them. You are not giving patients the care that they want.

“It’s soul destroying.”

According to our source, student nurses were propping up NHS Fife, while newly qualified nurses were feeling the greatest strain.

“They are the most stressed because they’re trying to do everything,” she said. “It’s impossible.”

Commenting on the RCN survey findings, Helen Wright, NHS Fife nursing director said: “Over the last three consecutive quarters, NHS Fife has continued to increase its nursing and midwifery numbers and we expect to further enhance this in the next month as newly qualified nurses begin to take up posts. Further, we are actively working across a number of platforms to plan for a sustainable and effective future workforce.

“This includes the upcoming implementation of our Workforce Strategy – which details the evolution of our workforce over the next five years, input to regional planning, and enhancing links with colleges and universities to improve recruitment.”