System In Crisis: Tens Of Thousands Of Nurses Left The NHS Last Year
Concerns have been raised about patient safety and the state of the NHS after figures revealed 33,000 nurses walked away from the job last year.
Figures provided by NHS Digital indicate there were more nurses leaving than joining in 2017. The data also states that last year was the worse exodus-to-recruiting ratio in the last five years.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have offered apologies to patients for the delays they had been experiencing during the winter period, however little has been done to ease the situation in hospital trusts around the UK.
The winter period usually causes issues across the sector, but nurses say they're currently reaching breaking point.
Band Five nurse Beth* tells LADbible: "Working in the NHS at the moment is stressful and distressing at times. You can't give good patient care and often go home feeling like you have done a crap job even though you couldn't have done any more.
"We often miss breaks and don't have time to drink or have toilet breaks."
She adds that most people leave for a better quality of life, better pay and more flexibility.
The UK's National Health Service is critically short of beds, with the occupancy rate across England being just under 92 percent during the Christmas period - 85 percent is considered safe. On New Year's Eve there were 12 trusts that had a full 100 percent occupancy rate.
Beth tells us: "A lot needs to be done with social work as many patients are fit to go home but due to social issues are clogging up beds."
The bed crisis is so bad that nearly 17,000 people were kept waiting in ambulances outside hospitals between Christmas and New Year's Eve because there wasn't enough room inside. Tens of thousands of planned non-urgent operations have also been postponed because hospitals can't keep up demand.
Theresa May insists that the NHS was 'better prepared for this winter than ever before' and yet doctors and nurses across the system say otherwise.
Nurses have told LADbible the situation is so bad that patients sometimes have to see others being treated for serious medical issues because the number of available beds or cubicles isn't sufficient.
Grace*, who's worked in the NHS for 10 years, recalls how a person was admitted for a cardiac arrest and doctors and nurses worked on the patient in front of others. She tells us: "[Patients are] having to witness something that's not very nice and they shouldn't really have to see.
"Sometimes we put two patients in one cubicle to save space. However, I did that in spring last year so it's not just a winter issue.
"So you just end up spending a lot of your time apologising and firefighting - trying to just move people around and juggle their issues."
Grace says the NHS isn't what it used to be and has been steadily declining in the decade since she's started, adding: "If somebody told me they wanted to go into nursing, I'd say don't."
Royal College of Nursing head Janet Davies says the NHS is 'haemorrhaging' nurses and has told the government that her staff need better pay and more support if it wants to see the vacancy rate change.
The BBC says the figures from NHS Digital don't indicate where exactly these nurses go when they leave, but suggests the private sector is popular.
Another nurse who jumped ship in July last year after nine years in the NHS says his job simply became unsustainable. Simon* has told LADbible: "I went into the profession to care for people as individuals, providing them with comfort in a very scary time in their lives.
"While I always tried to do this to the best of my ability, I never thought I'd have to provide that care and treatment on a hospital corridor where patients were stacked up waiting for a cubicle to become free."
He realised that he had to leave after finding out that his colleagues, aged in their mid-20s, were burning out due to the job pressures.
"I couldn't imagine that as my life for the next 20-30 years and saw no imminent change or solution for the NHS so decided to leave for my own health and happiness," he says.
Simon now works as a nurse on a cruise ship, where he says he almost always has time to provide proper care to each and every patient - plus it has the perks of travelling while working.
He adds: "There are times when I feel guilty for leaving, although the NHS is getting a lot of negativity, amazing things still happen with lives being saved every single day.
"We should all appreciate the NHS while we still have it."
*Names have been changed to protect people's identity and employment.
Featured Image Credit: PA