Today The Guardian reports on a Royal College of Nursing survey into levels of stress amongst 2,000 NHS and private sector nurses. Some of the nurses participating give dire accounts of their working lives when it comes to sickness and time off due to ill-health. Here is a snip from today’s paper:
The RCN said many of the nurses questioned reported that sickness absence policies at their place of work were so punitive that they had no alternative but to attend work despite feeling unwell.
One of the nurses told the RCN: “I’ve been told that if I don’t meet the 100% attendance at work I will be up for a capability hearing. I had three admissions into hospital due to a cardiac problem, so if I get chest pain I have to ignore it because I have to go to work.”
Another said: “I am currently off work following breast cancer. A senior manager called three weeks after my surgery and asked if I was coming back as people with cancer often don’t return and they wanted to fill my post.”
As someone who has investigated stress and burnout in nurses in the past I am interested to know more of this survey (or ‘poll’, as it is described). I can’t find anything in the Guardian‘s news report on the type of study which has been conducted, and I’m turning up a blank when I navigate to the RCN website for a full report. Perhaps I’m missing something?
This year’s International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Conference takes place on the 5th and 6th of September at Warwick University. Here are ten reasons to come along and participate:
- to learn from Professor Kate Pickett (co-author of The Spirit Level) talking about global inequalities in mental health;
- to hear Professor Len Bowers presenting new findings from his Safewards trial;
- to listen to Charles Walker MP, who has talked publicly about his personal experience of mental health difficulties, speaking on the topic of making the personal political;
- to hear Dr Simon Duffy from the Centre for Welfare Reform talking about personal responsibility and social justice;
- to listen to Dr Fiona Nolan from UCL/Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust discussing protected engagement time in acute mental health inpatient wards;
- in a packed programme of concurrent sessions, to learn from delegates (from the UK and beyond) talking about their research studies large and small;
- to renew existing friendships within the mental health nursing research field, and to make new ones;
- because I defy you to tell me you have anything more interesting to be doing over the two days the conference is taking place;
- because if (like me) you’re a regular at this conference, being there is the only way to find out how the NPNR at Warwick compares with the NPNR at Oxford;
- because you will, undoubtedly, enjoy yourself.
The formal academic year for students of the health professions (and therefore for their teachers, too) tends to be on the long side. Whilst many UK university students will have ended their studies until the autumn there are plenty of nurses, midwives and others with work to do before they can knock off for the summer. In September I’ll be working with pre-registration, second year, students of mental health nursing in a module assessed through the critiquing of published research. Before then I have a short, intensive, module to lead which is part of the taught component within the School’s professional doctorate.
This doctoral level module is all about ‘complexity’ and ‘systems’ and starts next month, and today I’ve been putting the finishing touches to some of the materials I’ll be using. As befits the student group and their thesis-producing aspirations I have opted to draw heavily on colleagues’ and my research experiences as far as is possible. I’m also hoping to foster a spirit of studying and learning together, and want to avoid being didactic.
Elsewhere today, in addition to research project-related work, I have had the opportunity to be part of a panel considering applications for RCN Foundation bursaries. There were some strong candidates, and well done to all who are about to get letters confirming their success. Others will be invited to interview (which I personally am unable to take part in). My commiserations, too, to those dropping out at this stage. I know how it feels to apply for support and not to get it, but there are always other opportunities. As I once heard someone, somewhere, say: if you’re not getting funding bids rejected you’re not applying enough!