A fast red car or nursing degree in my middle age? I decided on my long held dream of the nursing degree. So now, I’m part of a team of extraordinary professionals who remind me every day that flagging the fast car was the right decision. I love my job, I love and respect the people I work with and I care passionately about those I am charged to care for.
But, every day it’s getting harder. Harder to care the way I want to, the way I know I should and to care to the standard that my job description and Nursing Council expect of me.
This sounds emotive – it’s meant to be! Last time I looked I’d signed up for the ‘caring profession’, I’m paid to care – not to short change my patients. I didn’t for one moment, while studying, consider that I would have to factor ‘care rationing’ into my day. Care and rationing don’t even belong in the same sentence – It messes with a nurse’s head, it shouldn’t even be a concept!!
Most people have no idea how much these constant budget cuts impact on my ability to do my job. A few get a snapshot, when they are unwell and require medical help. If I’m lucky they are empathetic and understanding of the difficulties nurses face every day, they appreciate what we do and how hard we work.”
If the Minister of Health, Dr Coleman is going to name and shame hospitals who fail to meet the ‘ED Six Hour Target’, then he should be obliged to give the public the full story – the reasons why this is happening in the first place! Perhaps explaining that some EDs have increasing, unprecedented presentations – some patients very unwell, needing massive resource input, so others sit for hours waiting to be seen because there aren’t enough nurses or medical staff to keep the patient flow going. Or maybe that the hospital is in ‘bed lock’ – not a single bed, until hurried discharges are made – a short term solution, because some of those patients will be back in ED, sicker- requiring a higher level of care and another admission. Or maybe that some days ED waiting rooms are full of patients who could have gone to their GP, but have left it too late, or couldn’t get an appointment, or didn’t have the money.
Nurses were voted the ‘most respected profession’ survey this year. I don’t feel respected by our government. If the government respected us and our work, they would make sure that nurses had the tools to do their job, and to do it well. Our health service is being stripped so bare, many nurses are walking away or planning to. They’re done with the stress, the shifts that end in tears, not wanting to go back tomorrow.
I just want to be able to do my job properly, safely and go home knowing I’ve done a good job. Our health system should be given a realistic budget that allows it to function properly.
If we want things to change then it’s up to nurses to say so – nobody else is going to! So do we wait until the next pay round? Do we wait for a nurse to make that error we all dread? Do we keep waiting… for what? It’s time to use the strength of our union to give the public the full story of what is happening to our health system and why that system is letting them down. To say nothing is negligent!
By NZNO member Ady Piesse