‘Nurses stretched to limit’

Generic photo of community nurses at work.
Generic photo of community nurses at work.

An NHS community nurse has spoken of her concerns about the service in Midlothian and fears that a patient or nurse could suffer.

The whistleblower, who doesn’t want to be named, revealed that NHS community day staff are having to work regular 12-hour shifts due to a lack of staff in the evening, with the day team now having to cover from 8am until midnight.

Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership did not deny this, but claimed that it was “satisfied” with the current staffing levels in the county.

The nurse claims that the four daytime community teams based across Midlothian have been “stretched to the limit” to cover night-team shortages.

She added: “The problems started when the East and Midlothian evening team split a couple of years ago.

‘‘Most of them went to the east, and Midlothian has struggled to fill vacancies since.

‘‘Staff are feeling powerless and some have already left.

“Midlothian has lost experienced nurses, and bosses either couldn’t or wouldn’t replace them.

“Day staff are being expected to work from a base they have never been in, with equipment that they haven’t used.

“Staff are concerned some poor nurse will unfortunately make mistakes with the continued growing pressure and cause harm to a patient.

‘‘The community should be allowed to know what’s happening.”

The nurse revealed that staff also feel let down by management at NHS Lothian.

She said: “Support for staff is very lacking from management.

“Shadowing was promised but that has not happened.
“The managers in Midlothian are quite happy for us to do 12 hour shifts, we always did office hours before. We were basically told if we didn’t like it then other folk would do the job. Day service are unfortunately suffering as there are less staff around in the morning when the service is at its busiest for diabetics and early morning medical care.

“Staff were already low in morale, now the expansion in workloads is causing huge implications on family life. We are doing 12 hours, then when you factor in driving that can be another hour.

“And the patients using the service have not been told about these changes, which is shocking.”

Eibhlin McHugh, joint director of Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The wellbeing of our of staff is of the utmost importance to us - we are absolutely committed to ensuring they have regular support from managers so that we can provide our patients with the good quality, safe care they need.

“Though like all community health providers, we are facing challenges of recruiting and retaining staff at a time when demands for our services are increasing, we are satisfied we have the staff we require to deliver safe services. We have also, over the past two years, carefully reviewed and reorganised our services, in full consultation with staff, so that we can give patients the services they need and ensure staff have safe and flexible working conditions.”