'I'm swapping nursing for botox'

Image source, Constantina Antaniou

Constantina Antaniou became a nurse because she loves caring for people.

"I want to look after people, I'm that type of person - I wanted a profession where I can do this," Constantina told the BBC.

She left what she describes as the "NHS rat race" to join a GP surgery, where she has been since September 2016. But after 27 years working in hospitals and as a community nurse, she is leaving her nursing career to work in botox.

"It's very frustrating when you want to do a job you love but you're not supported, you're not given the resources, you're not valued," she explained.

Image source, Constantina Antoniou

For the first time since 2008, more nurses and midwives in the UK are leaving the profession than are joining it, figures reveal.

Meanwhile the number of unfilled posts has doubled in three years to 40,000.

"We work long hours as it is, and on top of that, we hardly get breaks because the lack of staff means we are run off our feet," explains Constantina.

"It was so hard working as a community nurse - I was supposed to work 8am to 5pm, but I often stayed until 8pm and I didn't get overtime.

"We've been working in unsafe conditions - there aren't enough nurses to fill the shifts because staff are off sick with stress.

"I was supposed to see 18 people in four and half hours - it is impossible to do that in a safe way.

"I kept thinking 'I'm rushing, I'm rushing, I could make a mistake'."

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The public sector pay cap of 1% a year, in place since 2013 following a two-year pay freeze, has not helped as inflation has outstripped real wages.

"A lot of us work six day weeks just to make ends meet," says Constantina.

"Now the government has stopped paying bursaries to train new nurses - it's put people off joining.

"Why get into huge debt to work in a really stressful job with low pay?"

After completing a course in botox administration this year, Constantina says she hopes a new career in cosmetic surgery will be less stressful and more lucrative.

"I want to work in an area where I can support myself. I might even set up my own business. They told me potential earnings are £50,000 - and I could be my own boss.

"I'd say to anyone thinking of going into nursing, 'don't bother, it's not worth it anymore'."

Produced by Georgina Rannard, UGC & Social news