Stress at QA is a sign that the system cannot cope

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If one person tells you that their workplace is ‘at breaking point’ and that morale is low, it’s fair to take it with a pinch of salt – or at least ask further questions.

But when their view is backed up by unions, and the employer concerned also confirms that, for example, counselling support sessions are in place for stressed staff, then you have to take it seriously.

As we have said before, it gives us little pleasure to report on the woes at Queen Alexandra Hospital. But it’s important these are reported – not just because it is a publicly-funded service, but because it is a service that we all depend upon, and one that we all want to be the best it can be.

Any reports of the systemic problems in the health service are also, it needs to be said, not criticisms of people who work there. Today’s story is a not a criticism of nurses, any more than long queues of ambulances are a criticism of paramedics. And while we feel that more could be done from the managerial point of view to reshape the local health service to make it more efficient, it’s not a blanket criticism of ‘fat-cat managers’ or ‘pen-pushing bureaucrats’ or any other lazy and incorrect stereotype.

The basic underlying fact remains that we have too many people trying to use a system that simply doesn’t have the capacity to be able to cope with them.

The hospital’s plans to change admissions systems, and so on, are welcome, but we would add the rider that we have heard similar grand plans before, which have not had the desired effect.

But again, short of a tax-funded windfall from the government to increase resources, which looks less and less likely, we have to repeat the message –just don’t go to QA unless it is an emergency.

Try any other form of healthcare, particularly the walk-in centres, unless it is a genuine emergency with severe bleeding or a loss of consciousness.

Because the stresses among nurses that we report today are due to overwork. And sadly, with the NHS’s finances and resources in the condition that they are, it’s up to us to try to reduce the workload. It shouldn’t be, but it is.