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- What is it like to be a staff member of NSFT?
Working in the trust is exhausting, we do not even have enough staff to keep ourselves safe let alone our patients. Its dangerous, sometimes it feels like it will take a death to make someone stand up and take notice. I used to love my job, now moral is so low that we just do what we need to do to survive, and who picks up on our emotions…… our patients. When will government wake up and realise that what they are doing, how about we use their 11% rise to get us some nurses.
I used to work for the trust until earlier this year. I went through the whole process of “radical redesign” and was initially over the moon to have secured a post. However, a few weeks later I found myself totally exhausted and working in what I can only describe as an unsafe situation. It was at that point that I decided I had to seek alternative employment. I now work in the private sector, I never ever thought I would leave the trust but am so glad I have. I now feel valued as a nurse and have the time to do my job…..caring for people , not balancing a huge case load.
I’ve worked for the Crisis Resolution and Home treatment Team for the last 5 years; it has always been a strong, well staffed team with high standards and ethics; however, this strength has been exploited by the Trust with the Team constantly called on to cover gaps elsewhere in the service. There are now so many gaps that the Crisis Team is at breaking point. Sickness levels are high and there is no cover. We have been without medical cover over the Xmas/New Year period and as others have stated our working situation feels unsafe. The Trust say they intend to “enhance” the CRHTS; if so why are staff going through one to one interviews and facing the prospect of downgrading and less Band 6 posts? The number of social workers in the Team is currently 50% of what it should be because the Trust are not providing cover for secondments and maternity leave; this at a time when we are getting more and mre referrals of people in desperate straits due to austerity cuts and the recession. Now we have been told that the Social Fund we normally use to help people in crisis has been stopped! Nobody has any confidence in the Trust’ service strategy.Our Unions are too passive, we need our national unions to take united action to stop these cuts.
Reading the above comments as an ex Approved Social Worker and BASW Mental Health Special Interest Group member I can’t help wondering: in these conditions how the hell can the MH Act Code of Practice the Social Work Occupational Practice Standards and the Nurses Codes of Ethics be observed?
I was at the first ‘Radical Redesign’ conference and couldn’t help coming away with the impression that the whole debacle is led by consultant psychiatrists. Is it that the Board don’t have the backbone to oppose them?
I have got to the point now where I am unable to be at work. The high caseload (which is only going to get bigger as people leave on VR, maternity leave and go to different teams) is unmanageable alongside all the extra work on top such as depot administration (a reasonably routine but vital appointment which often means at least an hour’s travel in the county). We are told to prioritise this but it is at the expense of the ongoing treatment and support of clients we are supposed to be seeing, setting up personal budgets (a full time and stressful job in itself) and of course CPA paperwork which we are now being told is a ‘performance issue’.
When we had to reapply for our jobs, we were told there would be a clear structure: Care coordinators would be coordinating, and the face to face contact, therapy, support and medication issues would be taken on by band 4 and 5 practitioners. When we raised concerns at the time that we were struggling to manage with the staff we had pre-RPR we were told that ‘we won’t be providing the same service with less people but will be working differently’. Well, this is the truth of the matter:
* Band 4 staff – in our team we have one who is taking VR, one who is tied up with other duties and is doing the foundation degree so is overworked before we even start, one part time and one full time. All of the work that was being done with our clients by band 4s has just been handed back to care coordinators as they’ve been told to pick up work in their new positions. There is no one to hand this over to (such as seeing clients, supporting 6s with completing personal budgets etc) so it is not being done to the detriment of care and support.
*Band 5 staff – one retired last month, one is unable to do depots (and is retiring this year). One of the band 5s in the other half of the team is running around like a dervish but is retiring this year. They are also carrying caseloads, some of inappropriate complexity (as per job description – a basis on which some band 6s agreed to become band 5s) but there is no capacity to hand them over. One is on long term sick.
*Band 6 staff – there are now 7, one of whom is due to take VR, one due to go to another team.
*Caseload – we continue to have responsibility for clients who should be handed over to other teams but this is not possible due to there being no capacity anywhere. This is particularly true of “West Plus’ so we continue to have to visit clients nearly 30 miles away which our staff numbers are no longer counted for. My own caseload is in the mid-forties and will be increasing – the staff taking VR etc all have cases that will need reallocating.
*Therapies – because of a squeeze on this service, access to therapies is much less and is unfairly presented to clients who get referred to secondary services ‘for psychological therapies’. These people just get added to caseloads and then get nothing; in some cases lose the things they already have such as Relate due to ‘funding issues’.
*Personal budgets – this is the biggest farce of all, taking months to do, numerous hoops to jump through and rules changing every time the paperwork is resubmitted. This is causing distress for clients, in particular contributing to admissions where they have been unable to access the support required for relapse prevention.
The chaos in the office as no one knows what they are doing is a nightmare. No one has any capacity but we have to do more and more. We are snapping and griping at each other and the culture of ‘them and us’ in east and west is really quite apparent. It is impossible to have any kind of effective productivity in this environment.
To sum up – we have been taken from effective, functioning teams who provided good, consistent support for clients and have been shoved into one smaller, dysfuntional team (Because we have no time to storm, norm let alone perform) with a vast area and workload to cover (area is certainly not smaller as we were led to believe). It is almost as if we have been set up to fail.
From my personal point of view – I have had to increase my dose of antidepressants just to get through the day. I am unable to function effectively – I cannot think or string a coherent sentence together. I have word finding difficulties and my short term memory has gone to pot. I cannot sleep and when I do it’s all disastrous work stuff. If I wasn’t in my 40s I’d thing I had a dementia. Melt downs in the office are a daily occurrence (our managers are in the same boat btw – they’ve been given numbers to work with but no plan).
This is not sustainable for any of us and if we are not in crisis then I don’t know what a crisis is.
I feel I have become a freelance member of staff.
I assess complex cases on a daily basis and have no provision for support or supervision to ensure I am doing the right thing for the people I see.
My working day is now so stressful and full on I have no time to reflect.
I have never felt so alone and dejected.
Thank you, ‘Radical Redesign’.
What is it like to be staff member? Hard, very hard!
Short staffing is a very common theme across the area I work in, sometimes there are more Agency & NHSP workers then regular staff on the ward. The reason colleagues are off is either due to physical assaults or stress and even with NHSP / Agency use we have many gaps left unfilled and of course that means where there is an unfilled gap that a ward is short of staff.
Trust has to save 20%…yet I wonder how much is being pumped into NHSP coffers?
I see the CEO said be critical but also come up with ideas to help solve….Doesn’t the board gets over a £1/4 million between them – more than paid enough then to come up with solutions – most of my colleagues have enough trouble making it to the end of a shift without injury or incident without having to think for the Board as well.
It seems now there appears to be a mire of problems they want staff to help find solutions to….yet when staff were pointing out the pitfalls they chose not to listen…had they listened then perhaps, just perhaps, they wouldn’t have to think so much now, perhaps they would have a workforce with some morale left
They want staff to think of solutions yet I hear from colleagues in the Unions that RCN, Unite and Unison had to withdraw from the partnership meetings held with the Trust because the Trust will not supply papers in a reasonable time frame…..hardly the sign of someone willing listen (and engage) to legitimate concerns raised by those inside and outside of the Trust is it? Hardly the sign of a board wanting help to find a solution is it?
I work for the CRHT and am currently off sick with stress . The redesign is not about improving care for service users and never has been, it is purely about cuts full stop. I am amongst 5 bnad 6s who were down banded due to being unable to tell a story or rather 9 shorts stories to the satisfaction of 3 members of an interview panel, so called competency interviews which had no way of establishing anyones’ competency except to tell a story! Be advised those in the Yarmouth and Lowestoft CRHTTs get your story telling skills brushed up. Working for the NSFT is soul destroying and just so demoralising I cannot face the prospect of returning and have decided to retire, in this regard I am without a doubt very lucky but I truly feel sorry for anyone who has to continue working for the NSFT. My original intention was to work for another 2 years even as a band 5 so long as the executive did not unilaterally change the band 5 job description so as to make me continue doing the job I was doing at band 6. Surprise surprise they did, on top of this they claim it has always been the case and it has been a team decision whenever someone was admitted to the service, one word covers this ‘Lies’. They have also said the unions have been on board with all of this throughout the process, can someone tell me who our representatives were and how I can access the minutes of any such meetings with said unions? The mindset of the Trust executive for me is summed up by comment I heard Mr Hopkins make on radio Norfolk in the last week. With reference to the Recovery Model that the NSFT is using as the care delivery platform Mr Hopkins said that they were building up resilience to mental health problems service users have………… by not visiting them as often as used to be the case! How about that for a spin on things?
Many of the managers have been colleagues and friends, a lot of them I was mentor and first line manager for when they were students and when they qualified. I enjoyed working with and for them as their careers developed, they have supported me through some very difficult and dark moments in my life something I try to remember when I get angry as I have never been angry before at the disgraceful, incompetent, demeaning and thoroughly shameful way we and ultimately the service users are treated.
I too was a member of staff working for NSFT and have worked in the NHS for over thirty years, most of it in general hospitals in the locality. I joined NSFT to work in CRHT….a new concept. Initially we worked hard, and the role was fulfilling, exhausting but very very enjoyable. Never had I seen so many people cared for in such an amazing way. I was so very proud to be working in a forward thinking, person centred environment. After six long years, cut after cut after cut, pressure, sickness, stress and unbelievable pain I have gone back to my roots in a general hospital. I have never seen staff and service users subjected to the horrors of NSFT…..I have witnessed bullying and harassment like never before, petty jealousy, and all sorts of inane behaviour from professional people, most of whom are under an incredible amount of stress walking a fine line between staff and service user themselves. Most of us came into this to care….what does that mean or stand for any longer. NSFT does not care, least of all for its staff and the ever growing band of service users they are supposed to support……I am soooo glad I am out of it. I sleep at night now and don’t wake up scared about going into work any longer…..
When will an NSFT manager actually be held to account? Their performance has been so poor a clinician would have been hauled over the coals by now but there is no sign that anyone is either aware or cares about certain managers performance. They are not delivering effective change, nor saving money, nor delivering better quality. Exec inaction just confirms to staff who see this incompetence, bullying and knee jerk management every day that they don’t have a grip on delivery of services.
In a word, NIGHTMARE!! We hear a lot about the clinical staff here but things are no better for the administrative side. The reason the trust is in meltdown is purely because of the treacherous, incompetent, self-serving board of directors who are at all-out civil war with each other. They may be bringing in a new chief executive at £175K a year (are you reading this, £18K a year nurse?) but at the moment, they’re all jostling for pole position to get on his good side because heads will surely start to roll once he realises what egotistical nest of vipers he’s walked into.
The much trumpeted Trust Service Strategy doesn’t actually exist. It’s a loose compilation of whims chucked together by a bunch of people who are just looking out for themselves. There’s a culture of fear at the trust, but it’s not confined to the lower-rank workers, it goes right to the top. That’s why everyone in the boardroom is afraid to make a decision.
James, I want you to know that we as clinical staff rely on admin as a vital part of the team. All the bs about cutting backroom staff to save frontline services is just ridiculous and is why we have to spend so much time on paperwork and not seeing clients. It would appear that clinical staff are not prioritised to have access to systems such as care first anyway (on phoning social servises for advise they are unable to comprehend this!) so we really need you! In this climate where it feels like every man for himself we need to support each other all the more. Admin staff are often the first person to answer the phone so are the frontline for complaints, frustration, disappointment and abuse and have the least training, capacity and supervision to deal with it. Admin, clinical staff salute you!
As a service user who has been admitted to hospital twice in the last two years please may I add my own declaration of gratitude to the fine words of Jelly to James.
The focus often tends to be on clinical staff, for whom I have nothing but admiration and gratitude, but other contributions are so important. It really is about the contributions of all the teams working together. During my time in hospital I was greatly helped by many acts of kindness, some apparently very minor. Small conversations with cooks and cleaners, sessions in OT, encouragement and advice from admin staff. All these things played a part in my recovery. Sometimes, some days, it wasn’t even a conversation or a problem solved. Sometimes it was just someone taking the trouble to flash me a smile when I needed it so much more than they could have known. To be treated with humanity when you feel less than human is a precious thing.
I know I am not alone in this. Patients have a lot of time together and talk at great length and in great detail about what helps us and what doesn’t. Many times other patients told me how worries and fears had been eased, how moments and acts of kindness had brought comfort, how a word or a look had just said “keep going. People care”.
I am sure at times it absolutely does not feel as if being a staff member of NSFT involves being appreciated or respected at all. Please know that although we are not always well enough to be able to express it, many of the people you serve have the utmost regard, respect, affection and gratitude for you. By definition, we struggle with life, and often it takes all our effort and energy to do the things we absolutely have to do. Next time one of us finds the time and strength to say thank you, or send a card or letter of gratitude, please know that this is not being nice, or polite. We don’t have the energy to spare for that. This is real thanks for making a real difference.
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