Published Wednesday, 30 July 2014
The RCN says emergency nurses feel like 'scapegoats' for failures in care. (© Pacemaker)
The body which represents nurses in the region has submitted evidence to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission emergency care inquiry.
The inquiry was launched in June following a major incident at the Royal Victoria Hospital earlier in the year. Senior managers had to call in extra staff and open more beds to deal with an influx of patients.
The commission will consider the human rights obligations of the Northern Ireland Executive and other relevant public authorities, and identify whether the rights of people seeking emergency care were protected.
It will also identify good practice and make recommendations for improvement.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said in its report that nurses feel that they are being made the scapegoats for broader failures of the Health and Social Care service.
It says this is in the context of failures by commissioners to deliver 24/7 treatment and care alternatives as laid out in Transforming Your Care.
Nurses are held accountable, and rightly so, by patients and by their regulatory body but they can't be held responsible for system failures where the whole system and things outside their control are impacting so severely on the work that they are trying to do.
Royal College of Nursing Deputy Director Garrett Martin
Speaking on U105 to Frank Mitchell, Royal College of Nursing Deputy Director Garrett Martin said: "Nurses do feel and almost take it personally when they are working so hard and in incredibly challenging circumstances, doing their utmost working way and above the call of duty, on many occasions they feel that it is almost an indictment on what they are trying to do.
"Sometimes when they raise concerns, the managers don't appear to implement changes or appear to listen to some of the concerns that they are raising and this is what we've been hearing for many months and indeed some cases years in relation to the emergency care situation.
"Unfortunately a lot of the solutions are outside the control of nurses within these departments."
Some nurses have deliberately opted for part-time employment even though they cannot afford to work on this basis, "simply because of the relentless pressures of the service and the impact this is having on their health, well-being and work-life balance".
While some new recruits, according to the RCN, within a matter of weeks "become so disillusioned with the system in which they are obliged to operate that they become thoroughly demoralised".
Concerns were raised about nurses having to skip breaks as well as frequent changes in shift patterns without prior engagement.
The body has called for better training, development and support for nurses.
However it did welcome that the Chief Nursing Officer has commissioned work to develop a framework for emergency care nursing and also a task group launched by the Health Minister, to drive forward an improvement in the delivery of unscheduled care.
© UTV News