Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Run off my feet.

Last night I did my first night shift since early July and boy what a shift it was. Our night shifts are from 7pm to 7.30am so 12.5 hours of fun and games....

I arrived on the ward (which holds 28 patients) to find there were only four staff for the night, two nurses and two HCAs. At first I thought this must be a good sign - if only four staff were needed then the patients must generally be okay and it shouldn't be too busy. How wrong was I?! About 3/4 of my patients were all care patients, most of whom should not have even been on the gastroenterolgy ward. Five of my patients were scoring so highly on our early warning system (this scores observations, so normal obs would score 0, whereas anything abnormal can score from 1-3 depending on the severity) that they should have been on a high dependency unit!

The shift was so manic, I was doing hourly and two hourly neuro observations on 4 patients, on top of all the usual turns, four hourly obs and general caring...which means as soon as you've finished you hardly have time to do anything else before starting again! On shifts like that it honestly all comes down to your colleagues as to whether it's a nightmare or just busy. Thankfully, the other 3 members of staff were lovely and supportive so we all pitched in together and got the job done without too much stress :)

Shifts like this make me question the organisation of the wards in terms of staffing levels and the patients they accept onto the ward. If the ward sister saw what it had been like last night (which is apparantly how it has been for the last few weeks) I have no doubts that he/she would organise for another HCA to work as well, but unfortunately the ward sisters do not work nights and so will never understand the need for improved staffing levels. Frankly, I believe that it puts the patients in danger. If one of us is on break and two members of staff are with a patient then that leaves just one nurse or HCA in charge of 27 other patients. Even the most experienced nurse shouldn't be expected to do that.  But it isn't my position to say anything as I am only a temp...

On a brighter note, the F1 doctor who spent almost all night on the ward had just finished the course I'm about to start on! It was so lovely to speak to someone who has completed the course, loved it and is actually in the dream job!

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