On the twelfth day of Christmas, the cuts took away… health & safety

Die Hard

‘Sarah’ tell us her experiences:

I have worked for the NHS for over 30 years and have been a union health and safety representative for almost as long. My role is to try to ensure that Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is a safe and secure place for everyone who works and receives treatment within it .

Over the years there have been peaks in concerns in different areas but nothing as bad as the present situation where multiple areas of NSFT have significant problems related to low staffing and poor working environments.

I am saddened that so many of my colleagues are unable to work at the moment due to stress and mental illness (oh, the irony) brought about by their jobs. Many others of us are receiving either counselling or medication to help us cope with the challenge of providing a safe service in impossibly dangerous circumstances. Other colleagues are off work with significant physical injuries, many that occurred due to short staffing / working alongside staff without sufficient experience in specialist areas.

Other reps and I have campaigned for an easier way for staff to report concerns such as low staffing. There is a huge discrepancy between what occurs and what is reported – the NSFT Board and outside bodies with the powers to bring about improvement only see the figures that are reported. It has been demonstrated (by cross-referencing actual logs of unsafe staffing with number of requests for bank or agency staff due to short-staffing) that less than three per cent of staffing issues in a forensic ward had actually been reported. This is by no means the only area that is having problems, but hopefully gives an insight in to what many services are up against, day in, day out.

Norman Lamb (‘Care’ Minister) keeps banging on about parity of esteem for mental health services. Well, we are miles away. People deserve and should expect better. It’s a disgrace.

2 thoughts on “On the twelfth day of Christmas, the cuts took away… health & safety”

  1. I work for NSFT. I have always thought that we should have more people with personal experience of mental illness working for the trust. However at the moment we seem to be going about this by putting everyone working for us under so much stress that they become mentally ill.

  2. I totally agree with the above, the forensic service seems to have been ignored so far. Many of us have raised issues regards to low staffing, low morale, staff shortages and serious concerns for safety for both staff and patients for a long time, the unions are working as hard as they can but we and the unions it appears are being totally ignored. The acting chief executive was even sent a letter that had been compiled by staff and has not even had the decency to reply. It just makes me laugh the way the trust says it actively encourages people to speak out about concerns they have, Really!!!!! why when no one listens and if you do speak out your life is made very uncomfortable. We are in an extremely pressurised and risky job we are not stupid we all know that, however the risks now are way beyond what anyone should have to put up with in their working environment. And I am not just talking about risks for staff but patients also. I can forsee a real tragedy happening soon and that is more than frightening. We will still keep fighting on but when is anyone going to have the common sense and the decency to listen.

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