DDN May 2023 DDN May_2023 | Page 20



Why is recruiting and retaining experienced nurses so difficult ? Chrissie gives DDN a personal perspective

E verybody talks about the state of our underfunded NHS . But there are other reasons why I ’ ve just left a job that I loved , as a mental health nurse .

We were the most successful liaison team of band 6 nurses , employed by the mental health trust – eight of us running a 24- hour service , seven days a week .
We were autonomous , dynamic , well liked , and people valued our opinion . We didn ’ t have sickness , we didn ’ t use an agency , and others would make contact to ask advice on how to make a successful team .
I learned my job through acute experience on the mental health admissions ward , and you had to know what you were doing . It was a big A & E and there would be at least two patients waiting for decisions . They might have the police with them and be in handcuffs , they might be in a resus [ resuscitation ] bed with police , security , doctors and nurses all around this one patient for many hours . A lot of the time there would be somebody who was acutely unwell , and they could be quite violent .
MANAGEMENT CHANGE We used to manage ourselves , overseen by the mental health trust . Then just before COVID the management changed the whole way our team worked . And when they made these changes they didn ’ t consult us – they didn ’ t ask us what we thought would be best . We just got told what to do by people who weren ’ t working with patients – ‘ you have to do this !’ Questions about why we were doing something differently were met with management silence .
I felt that none of the changes were anything to do with the patients ’ welfare and it really went against the grain . For instance , we used to have all the patients ’ names on a whiteboard , with the time they came in , what they were presenting with , and if they were out of area , so you could see it at a glance . They decided they wanted a computerised ‘ live board ’, but the busy team didn ’ t have time to update it properly , and anything that wasn ’ t on the live board ‘ didn ’ t exist ’. It was mandatory to keep it updated and management would focus on what wasn ’ t inputted and the importance of this , not on patients ’ and clinicians ’ welfare and the decisions made for them .
I couldn ’ t see any justification for over-complicating a serious task . The patients only ever seemed to become important when they were coming up to a 12-hour breach – ie when the hospital could get into trouble because something wasn ’ t right .
MENTAL HEALTH IS SIMPLE Mental health is pretty simple – if you know what you ’ re doing . Even the most complex of personality disorders aren ’ t rocket science when you have the experience xijian / iStock