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Urgent hospital investigation launched over bullying claims

19 May 2022 4 minutes Read
Photo Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

An “immediate review” is being undertaken into the working conditions and treatment of nurses at a North Wales hospital, a health chief has confirmed.

It comes after Ynys Môn’s MS Rhun ap Iorwerth called for an independent probe following revelations made by nursing staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

They included claims of workplace bullying, increased pressure for nurses to move from specialist areas to other wards and departments placing patients “at risk”. They also said they had to endure “unreasonably long working hours, poor relationship with management resulting in low morale” which is causing many staff to leave.

One nurse, who asked not to be named said: “Burnout is at an all time high at the site amongst nurses and other healthcare workers, and staff morale has never been so low. Many have chosen to leave their posts.”

They included workplace bullying, increased pressure for nurses to move from specialist areas to other wards and departments placing patients ‘at risk’.

They also had to endure ‘unreasonably long working hours, poor relationship with management resulting in low morale’ which is causing many staff to leave.

Working conditions

One nurse, who asked not to be named said:  “We as a workforce wanted to raise an anonymous concern about our working conditions at Ysbyty Gwynedd.”

“Burnout is at an all time high at the site amongst nurses and other healthcare workers, and staff morale has never been so low. Many have chosen to leave their posts.

“We already work long hours and then feel pressured to take on more shifts – often redeployed to areas where we do not specialise – to help with staffing shortages.

“It is impossible to possess a high standard of nursing knowledge for every speciality that an individual could be covering from one day to the next. The situation has been escalating for years and has now reached a crisis stage with no solution.

Mr ap Iorwerth had written to the Chief Executive and Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board calling for “serious, urgent action.”

Immediate review

Today, Jo Whitehead, Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, told the Local democracy Reporting Service in a statement, “We are taking these concerns very seriously and are undertaking an immediate review into them.”

Mr ap Iorwerth, the Ynys Môn’s Member of the Senedd and Plaid Cymru spokesperson on Health and Care, raised the matter with the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS in the Senedd last week,  prompting many more nurses to share similar experiences.

Mr ap Iorwerth said: “I was deeply saddened to learn about the very serious concerns of our nurses. Initially one nurse gathered together evidence from her colleagues and passed them to me anonymously, they were so fearful of repercussions.

“After I brought them to the attention of the Health Minister in the Senedd, nurse after nurse made contact with me to confirm and emphasise the concerns. I have therefore written to BCUHB, calling on them to conduct an independent investigation.”

Leaving

 Amongst the correspondence received, many nurses confirmed they had left posts at Ysbyty Gwynedd or the profession entirely, and many were considering leaving.

 “What’s hugely worrying is the impact that the current working conditions are having on staff numbers and morale. Some have concluded that they want to leave their posts, many have already left,” He said.

 “At a time when we face staff shortages following the pandemic, we need to be looking at new ways of attracting new nurses to the profession and increasing training places. We must also be able to retain the staff we already have, with their invaluable experience and knowledge.

Feel safe

Health board chief  Jo Whitehead said: “We are committed to ensuring that all staff feel safe to raise concerns in a way that enables us to improve as an organisation and as an employer.

“Having listened to staff feedback, we recently introduced a new Speak Out Safely process, supported by a range of mechanisms to enable staff to raise issues anonymously but also enabling us to communicate with them to ensure they can be clear on what is being done to address these concerns.

“It is clear that not all staff feel that it is safe to speak out. It is important to us that we continue to improve the confidence of colleagues that their concerns will be addressed in a constructive way.”

Mr Iorwerth went on to welcome figures released by the Nursing and Midwifery Council which showed an  “increase in staff registering to work over the past year”. But, he added, it was really worrying to see “that there has also been an increase in the number of people leaving the profession too”.


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