A Day In The Life Of An NHS Nurse: Hit, Spat At And Smelling Of Shite

I'm sick of nurses getting a bad press. We do a thankless job, get paid buttons and have been used as scapegoats for failings up the NHS hierarchy...
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How many times have you been talking with a work colleague and asked, “Are these muppets on the same planet as us?” and answered with the old, “If I was in charge…” Well let me tell you in nursing it happens on a daily basis.

I’m sick of nurses getting bad press. We are the work-force, the small cogs in a very big machine (nobody blamed the bank staff in the recent banking scandal).

I’m an auxiliary nurse, bottom of the pecking order. The donkey who’s supposed to get on with it and carry on regardless. Let’s have a typical day: A ward of 30 medical elderly patients, all 70+ years. There are 3 staff nurses and 4 auxiliaries, minimum staffing numbers. Not ideal, just minimum, no frills. The qualified staff do medicines; admissions; discharges; talk to other agencies; handle relatives – some abusive; write care-plans on every patient at the end of a shift. (The admissions book is an 81 page document on its own)

The auxiliaries do washing, dressing, feeding, toileting (which in the wake of the norovirus epidemic is more frequent than ever!) They make beds, do regular pressure area checks, and fill out a form or chart for every action undertaken. Now put into the equation that more than one elderly patient needs two people to escort them to the toilet and all of the others need some kind of personal assistance. Where do you start?

Nursing used to be ‘for’ the patient, now it’s done ‘to’ the patient, accompanied by the relevant paperwork. And, while we do need a documented plan of action/care, how much of it is done in case ‘Mr Smith’ wants to sue the NHS five years down the line in this ever increasing blame/claim society.


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Now, whilst some of you may be saying, “Get the violins out”, when did you last leave work having been verbally abused, hit/pinched, spat at, and smelling of someone else’s shite?

Many hospital trusts are grossly overspent and desperately try to recoup by cutting budgets and as a result, services. So if someone in management cocks-up the spending budget, which affects the staffing budget, why is it then the fault of the nurse? Because now her workload has increased and she still only has one pair of hands.

Many go home after a 12 hour shift (with only 2 thirty minute breaks) thinking, “Did I do this/that?” “Did I do everything?” or even, “I wish I could have done more.” then go and sort out their own dramas.

I’m not saying everyone’s perfect. There will always be the workers and the shirkers. That happens in all professions but most nurses are there because they care. An auxiliary earns around £14,000 a year, now that’s not living the dream is it? The incentive here isn’t money.

So next time the media is having a pop at the nurses, think twice before you believe the hype. Remember, whilst they’re bitching about us, far more serious issues are being masked.

But then, isn’t that what this government does best?