October 30, 2020

Coronavirus: NHS nurses told ‘lives would be made hell’

Queen's Medical Centre Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Unison says they have raised a grievance for 36 Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust staff

Hospital nurses were told their “lives would be made hell” if they complained over conditions on a coronavirus ward, a union has claimed.

Unison has raised a group grievance for 36 employees, most of the nurses, at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.

It said staff on the Queen’s Medical Centre ward were not trained properly, faced bullying for raising concerns and denied PPE “as punishment”.

The trust said the allegations were “very troubling”.

The union said the staff, which included nurses, senior nurses and healthcare assistants, volunteered to work on the hospital’s only ward dealing with end-of-life coronavirus patients.

It claimed they were not given any specialist training or counselling for dealing with dying patients and their grieving relatives.

An anonymous member of staff described it as “incredibly stressful”.

“Normally, the palliative care team who deal with end-of-life patients handle 200 deaths each year – we dealt with 185 in just 10 weeks,” they said.

“People doing that job normally receive high levels of training and support because of the stress. We had none of that.”

Image caption The union said staff were not given adequate training to deal with dying patients and their relatives

Dave Ratchford, from Unison, said staff were unprepared for dealing with such high frequency of death and should have had access to psychological support.

He said after the team raised concerns, management were “hostile” and locked away PPE “as punishment”.

Another worker said a board with everyone’s record of sickness was put on display in a break room to intimidate staff.

“This is absolutely shocking stuff,” added Mr Ratchford.

“We’re talking about a very high-performing team who fell foul of a culture that permits bullying and fails to address it.

“Staff were told their lives would be made hell for complaining.”

The team said they had experienced the treatment from April, during the peak of the coronavirus crisis, until this month.

Dr Neil Pease, of the trust, said he was “disappointed” to hear about the concerns and added: “We greatly value our staff for the incredible dedication and resilience they have shown during the pandemic.

“They have done amazing things in the face of truly unprecedented challenges, so to hear of these grievances is very troubling indeed.

“Bullying and harassment are not tolerated in our organisation.”

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