Health

'The NHS is at breaking point': Nurses share their experiences

Leading nurses say conditions in the National Health Service are the worst they have ever experienced. Below are a selection of the experiences of nurses and former nurses who got in touch to share their experience and the problems they say they face working within the NHS.


Image copyright Getty Images

Anne, nurse consultant

I have been a nurse for 30 years, but I am also currently due to undergo surgery, which has been cancelled three times since November 2016, so I feel I really see both sides of the impact of the cuts.

I feel the treatment the NHS is able to offer and the working conditions of staff have both gone markedly downhill since 2008, as the direct result of government cuts to both the services the NHS offers and the number of staff it employs.

I think the responsibility for the problems the NHS is currently facing rest firmly at the government's door.

Both medical and NHS trust staff are doing the best they can without the resources they desperately need.

The people I treat are often very ill by the time they reach me, as a result of huge cuts to other departments and services.

The NHS is at breaking point.


Heather, nurse

I'm 24 years old, and I've been a nurse for two years.

I should be at the start of a long and wonderful career, which was my dream for many years.

However, I am so overworked I can't continue.

I am a front-line nurse on a ward, and the other day I started work at 07:00 and left at 23:30, with only a total of 45 minutes break all day.

With an ageing nursing workforce, I'm really concerned, because if I can't do it as a 24-year-old, then I really worry about the nurses coming up for retirement.

I worked full-time for over a year at a hospital in Birmingham.

However, I recently left because the staffing compared to patient dependency (that means how poorly they are) was so bad it scared me enough to leave.

We frequently had one junior nurse in charge of the ward, and very often had one nurse take care of four high-dependency patients (patients that need one nurse between two of them).

We had to leave all admissions until the nightshift because there was no time in the day, which meant patients often being moved on to the ward as late as 03:00.

Basic nursing care was often missed due to the lack of staffing, and resources and training were almost always cancelled due to lack of staff on the ward.

And this was not a one-off, this was all the way through the hospital, all the time.


Image copyright PA

Josephine, health care assistant

I have worked in a busy hospital in Plymouth for nearly 10 years.

I have watched and listened in despair at people haranguing the NHS and what we aren't doing, but the problem is not the hospitals.

The problem is bed-blocking because of a lack of other places for patients to go.

And that can only be addressed by the social services system.

We outsource all our social care to independent companies that ask enormous amounts for the elderly and disabled, and this is not realistic.

One of my patients some weeks ago, had been stuck on our ward for months because a suitable next step couldn't be found for him.

We need to empty our beds of people who need longer term social care, so we can treat those who are sick and then have somewhere for them to go on to after initial treatment.

We need more viable old-age homes, and more mental health facilities, because care in the community does not always work and people often simply end up back in hospital.


Sue, retired nurse

I am a recently retired nurse.

I was a nurse manager for many years, and I believe the root of the problem for the NHS is the year-on-year cost cutting forced on every single department by successive governments.

Whilst the government puts money into areas such as accident and emergency, it is constantly taken out again by the annual cost-cutting.

The prime minister has spoken about improving access to mental health services for young people.

When I started working in management, in Cumbria, 20 years ago, there were services for young people close to home.

There were also more beds for adult mental health patients, but annual cost-saving meant wards were closed and beds disappeared in West Cumbria, meaning that service users were admitted to Carlisle or further afield.

This meant a minimum of an 80-mile round trip for families in an area of the country where public transport is often very poor.

Maybe if the government stopped the annual cuts to budgets and bolstered the system with adequate funds, the NHS would have a chance of surviving and delivering the quality service that its staff want to deliver.

Produced by Kerry Alexandra, UGC and Social News Team

Related Topics

More on this story