My life, my job, my career:

The secret behind nurses

There are around 692,556 nurses on our NHS wards in the U.K. and nearly 52,000 in training. This may seem like a lot, however more nurses are leaving the profession rather than joining it. Between March 2016-17 the number of nurses in the U.K decreased by 1,783 to 690,773. It then deceased by a further 3,264 between April and May 2017. There are many reasons supporting this. Here I interview a U.K nurse (Sharon Brown) to find out why nurses are leaving in their thousands.

Interviewer: How long have you been a qualified NHS nurse?

Sharon: 6 years

Interviewer: What are the challenges of being an NHS nurse?

Sharon: I would say pay is a challenge as the government has cut back our pay several times. I would also say it being extremely busy is also a challenge as it means we don’t get to spend as much time as possible looking after our patients as there are so many patients relying on us within one day. It’s difficult as there is a lack of nurses and support in the NHS so we have to rush things in order to see every single patient and make sure they have their basic needs like medicine

Interviewer: What would you say are the benefits of being a NHS nurse?

Sharon: Caring and being able to meet the needs of the patients and being able to support them. I often dress wounds and I would say the best part of that is managing and looking after them. Looking back on the time from when it was raw to when is healed is especially rewarding as it makes you feel better that you have met the needs and made your patient happier.

Interviewer: Do you feel like being an NHS nurse is undermined?

Sharon: Yes, especially when it comes to pay and the government is always trying to cut back our pay. It makes me question them like do they not appreciate us? Do they think we don’t work properly?

Interviewer: Have you ever felt unappreciated?

Sharon: In terms of patients no, in terms of government yes. Like I’ve said nurses don’t get payed much due to the government cut backs so our pay doesn’t reflect the hard work we do. From patients whether or not they thank us you can see that they appreciate us as we help them with their basic needs.

Interviewer: How long have you been a private nurse?

Sharon: 3 years on and off

Interviewer: Comparing being an NHS nurse with a private nurse, what would you say the conditions are in both environments?

Sharon: In the NHS it’s very busy. They often have to cram lots of patients to one nurse. I’ve seen situations where nurses had to juggle 9 patients with lack of support. Also on top of that were given a lot of paperwork to do.  Which is difficult with lots of patients asking for attention and there’s not enough staff to meet all needs. In terms of private nursing, it’s less busy. I’ve had days where I’ve only had 3 patients which is easier to handle. I have been in a situation where I’ve had 8 patients but I had more help and provision.

Interviewer: Is pay more or less being a private nurse and how has it impacted your life?

Sharon: The pay varies. You can negotiate your pay in both environments. In the NHS they often give you a pay scale depending on what band you are e.g. a band 5 nurse would get between x and x amount. In private it’s more open. But really you need to learn how to negotiate. It’s impacted my life for the better. Because I get more money and spend more time with my patients.

Interviewer: Do you enjoy being a private nurse more?

Sharon: Yes because I get more pay and more time to spend with patients. And you get to know your patients better like I’ve had a patient who had owned a jewellery shop; you wouldn’t have known this in the NHS.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to an aspiring nurse?

Sharon: Only be a nurse if you really want to- Don’t just do it for the money.

So this interview gives an insight into some of the conditions faced by nurses and also explains some of the many reasons for the significant decrease in number of registered nurses over the years.