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Scottish Nurses on the brink

Nurses in Scotland are describing their jobs as “not being what they signed up for” given current levels of understaffing and overwhelming patient numbers in our hospitals.

By Graeme McGill

With the highest drug death per capita in Europe, A&E wait times at their longest since records began and nursing unions are rejecting and booting out the Scottish Government’s 5% pay rise offer last month, it’s fair to say that NHS Scotland is in crisis and there doesn’t appear to be a clear way out of it.

Laura, a nurse in a well known Glasgow hospital, gave her views on the Scottish Government’s proposed 5% pay rise offer:

“No, it’s definitely not” Laura told UWS News when asked if she thought the 5% pay rise offer was enough. “We work 12 and half hour shifts, we never get the breaks that we’re entitled to . Nurses should be allocated with their patients, you should only have ‘x’ amount of patients, at the moment, we’re taking on double that. In a ward you’re only meant to have 7 patients a day, at the moment we’re getting about 14.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was “disappointed” that the pay rise offer was rejected by nursing unions and promised to “Promptly, get back round the table with trade unions, continue negotiations and hope to reach a satisfactory outcome.”

In addition to the pay dispute between the government and NHS staff, Scotland’s A&E wait times are the worst on record with week ending September 11 showing that just 63.5% were seen and attended to within four hours. The Health Secretary conceded that these times were “not acceptable” and vowed to continue the fight to improve these figures.

Scottish Nurses on the brink: soundbites

Another nurse we spoke to called Gillian told of how the strain is taking it’s toll on medical staff: “The public have seen how stretched we’ve been, I kind of hoped there would be a big push or support for the NHS but I don’t really feel like that’s happened. Since the pandemic there’s been a huge backlog of appointments which is now at crisis levels. That’s having an impact on staff, people are going off on the sick and that’s obviously affecting the staff that are working on the wards. I was very close to having to go off on sick leave because I was just working all the time, doing extra shifts to cover others or support other people.”

With winter fast approaching and these figures and numbers to adversely affected by the weather conditions which will be amplified by the cost of living crisis making it difficult for some to heat their homes, many are deeply concerned for what lies ahead for NHS Scotland and it’s patients.

NHS Scotland declined to comment when contacted.

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